PhD: Satellite gravity based estimates of mantle viscosity for geodynamic modelling

Faculty/department: Aerospace Engineering
Level: Master degree
Maximum employment: Maximum of 38 hours per week (1 FTE)
Duration of contract: 4 years
Salary scale: 2222 - 2840 per month gross

Job description

The PhD candidate will produce estimates for viscosity of the Earth's mantle, which is the parameter that controls deformation. Such estimates are currently produced from seismic measurements. The aim of this project is to add gravity data and include variable mantle composition. The candidate will use existing software for integrated lithospheric modelling based on Fortran. The software will be extended to allow constraints from global gravity field models and isostasy in the lithosphere. The forward model is the basis for inversion techniques to obtain the mantle viscosity that best fits to constraints. Case studies are the North American craton and the Barents Sea region.

The maps of mantle viscosity are an important product for geodynamic modelling studies. The estimates of mantle viscosity will be implemented in a numerical model for Glacial Isostatic Adjustment. This model is based on the combination of a commercial finite-element software and a Python program, which is recently developed in the group. Measurements of the GIA process are available in the form of geologic sea level data, uplift and gravity rates. With an accurate GIA model predictions of GIA induced mass change and sea level change are produced.

The project focuses on petrological and geodynamic modelling and application of constraints from available data. The candidate will benefit from cooperation with the project '3D Earth' funded by the European Space Agency (ESA). Cooperation and work visits are foreseen to the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.


Applicants are expected to have an MSc degree (or the equivalent) in one of the following areas: Earth science, planetary science, physics, engineering, or a closely related area. A background in numerical modelling is desirable. Applicants must be proficient in spoken and written English.

Conditions of employment

The successful candidate will be granted a temporary employment contract with the university for a period of 4 years (48 months), with an evaluation at the end of the first year. Within the contract period, the candidate is expected to produce a dissertation (PhD thesis) of sufficient quality for him/her to be awarded a PhD. Benefits and other employment conditions are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement.

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact W. van der Wal, phone: +31 (0)15-2782086, e-mail: To apply, please send your CV, a short cover letter, a list of courses in the BSc and MSc programme including grades, a list of published papers or reports (if applicable), and the names and e-mail addresses of two references by 11 June 2018 to N. van Wingaarden,

posted: 15 May 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.