Postdoctoral position on Semi-analytic coupled modelling of Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Job description:

The Department of Earth Sciences seeks a postdoctoral researcher to work for at least 12 months in DESTRESS, a major EU H2020 programme on Enhanced Geothermal Systems. The goal of DESTRESS is to demonstrate the feasibility of so-called "soft stimulation" - geothermal productivity enhancement while minimizing induced seismicity. The field demonstration experiments in the programme require underpinning by modelling. The postdoc will work on fast, semi-analytical tools, intended to capture the main physics determining fault friction and seismogenic slip but simplified to the extent that calculations are fast. This will facilitate sensitivity analyses aimed at mapping the range of outcomes due to uncertainties or operational choices, providing the possibility to employ ensemble-based data assimilation to constrain those uncertainties. We envisage starting with existing modelling tools that address poro-elasto-plastic reservoir behaviour and fault failure, by evaluating the stress path due to injection. The technology then needs to be extended to include thermal effects, stimulation, and induced seismicity. The tool will be tested on a soft stimulation treatment performed in Pohang (South Korea).

The appointee will work in the rock and fault mechanics team led by Prof. Chris Spiers and cooperate closely with colleagues at Utrecht University and TNO, in particular the project leader Dr. Peter Fokker and Prof. Jan-Diederik van Wees.


Applicants should have a PhD in theoretical and/or numerical mechanics, ideally rock/fault or materials mechanics, and should have experience in mathematical modelling and programming. Candidates with a relevant background in other disciplines will also be considered. A broad interest in geothermal energy and in the mechanism causing earthquake motion on faults is essential, as is the willingness and capacity to interact in a multidisciplinary team.

Terms of employment:

We offer a full-time position for 12 months with a possibility of extension if funding allows. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €3,044 and €3,545 (scale 10-3 to 10-7 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment (increasing to € 3,123 and €3,637 respectively per 1 Feb. 2019). Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % of annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % of annual salary per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model).

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 The research programmes in Earth Sciences are structured around four overarching focus themes: Climate and Life, Earth interior, Earth materials, and Environmental Earth Sciences. The Department has advanced laboratory facilities on campus, including the joint Utrecht University and TNO environmental laboratory 'Utrecht Castel', the Electron Microscopy centre 'EM Square', the Paleomagnetic Laboratory 'Fort Hoofddijk', and the new solid Earth cluster 'Earth Simulation Laboratory'. In addition, the Department offers an extensive high-end computing infrastructure.

Additional information:

Informal enquiries may be sent to Prof. Chris J. Spiers (, Dr. Peter A. Fokker, ( or Prof. Jan-Diederik van Wees (

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. We prefer to receive your application by October 1, 2018. Evaluations and interviews are planned for the month of October. We seek to initiate the position as soon as possible and not later than January 1st, 2019. Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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posted: 11 September 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.