The Utrecht Department of Earth Sciences is now looking for highly-motivated, high-potential applicant to fill a:

PhD position in Solid Earth Geophysics (4 yrs)

on an exciting and interdisciplinary project aimed at detecting mantle plumes in seismic images, using machine learning techniques. This PhD is part of a larger Vidi project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and led by Dr Laura Cobden.

Job description:

The PhD will integrate data and modelling from seismology, mineral physics and geodynamics, in order to accurately characterise how thermochemical plumes (as predicted by geodynamic modelling) are manifested in seismic recordings, especially tomographic images. The candidate will implement various numerical modelling and machine-learning tools. The position is based in the Seismology group at Utrecht University, and is designed to foster international collaboration with geodynamicists, mineral physicists and petrologists.

Up to 10% of the candidate's time will be dedicated to assisting in the BSc and MSc teaching programmes of the Earth Sciences department. A personalised training programme will be set up, mutually agreed on recruitment, which will reflect the candidate's training needs and career objectives.


The candidate should have strong numerical and analytical skills and an MSc degree (or equivalent) in Earth Science or Geophysics. Previous experience in computer programming and numerical modelling is highly desirable. A background in either seismic waveform modelling or high-pressure mineral physics would also be advantageous. Full fluency in written and spoken English is essential.

Terms of employment:

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position at first for one year. Depending on a good performance this may be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period.

Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary starts with 2,222,- in the first year and increases to 2,840,- in the fourth year of employment with a full-time appointment. The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. In addition, we offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions. Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus (where the Department of Earth Sciences is situated), which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht.

About the organisation:

The Utrecht Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 2600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning.

The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The department hosts a highly international group of more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses a wide variety of world-class laboratories.

Additional information:

For additional information please contact the project leader Dr Laura Cobden,

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. The application deadline is October 31st , 2017. Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter. We aim to start the project on the 1st of March, 2018, or as soon as possible thereafter. Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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posted: 10 October 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.