PhD position on 'Unravelling magnetic behaviour of igneous rocks by Micromagnetic Tomography' (4 years)

Job description:

The Department of Earth Sciences currently seeks a highly-motivated, high-potential applicant for a PhD or Postdoc position to work within the research project Unravelling magnetic behaviour of igneous rocks by Micromagnetic Tomography funded by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) that was awarded to Dr. Lennart de Groot at the paleomagnetic laboratory Fort Hoofddijk.

Magnetizations stored in volcanic rocks are our only source of information on the past behaviour of the Earth's magnetic field. Therefore, unlocking the information in these natural archives is paramount to improve our understanding of rapid geomagnetic variations. A small portion of grains in volcanic rocks become magnetized when cooling in the Earth's magnetic field, but they violate standard (Nèel) theory on the acquisition and storage of magnetizations because of their size. The aim of this PhD project is to further develop a novel technique, Micro-Magnetic Tomography (MMT), to determine the magnetizations of individual particles in a non-magnetic matrix (i.e. a volcanic rock), with the ultimate goal to acquire paleomagnetic information by only considering signals from grains with known good magnetic properties and reject the contributions of ill-behaved grains. The proof-of-concept of this new technique was recently put forward by the research team offering this PhD position. To establish MMT as a rock-magnetic tool we will use a Quantum Diamond Microscope that will be installed in paleomagnetic laboratory Fort Hoofddijk to produce magnetic surface scans of sample material. These measurements will be combined with high-resolution MicroCT scans to characterize and identify the magnetic grains of interest. Optimizations of the mathematic inversion routine will advance the accuracy and efficiency of the inversion that yields the individual magnetizations per grain.

The research team is highly interdisciplinary and includes Project Leader Dr. Lennart de Groot (supervisor), Dr. Mark Dekkers (advisor), Bertwin de Groot (technician) and Prof. dr. Wout Krijgsman (promotor) at the Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University; Dr. Karl Fabian (advisor) at the Norwegian Geological Survey in Trondheim; Dr. Tristan van Leeuwen (advisor) at the Department of Mathematics, Utrecht University; and Dr. Roger Fu (advisor) at Harvard University. The research will be performed at Utrecht University.

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 personalized training programme will be set up, mutually agreed on recruitment, which will reflect the candidate's training needs and career objectives.


The successful candidate should be ambitious and have obtained an MSc degree (or equivalent) in Earth Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, or Chemistry by the start of the appointment. A strong background in Mathematics is essential. Experience with one or more of the following topics would be an advantage: analytical (laboratory) skills, rock-magnetism, scanning magnetometry, inverse theory, solid-state physics, micro-scale modelling of natural systems, and/or programming. A broad interest in geosciences, and the willingness and capacity to interact in a multidisciplinary team, are essential. The candidate should be fluent in both spoken and written English, since the host group is international in composition.

Terms of employment:

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time PhD position, initially for one year. Depending on a satisfactory performance this may be extended to a maximum period of four years, with the intend that this results in a doctorate within this period.

Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary for a PhD position starts at €2,325 in the first year and increases to €2,972 in the fourth year. The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. 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: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Sustainable Development, 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, including 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 the Project Leader, Dr. Lennart de Groot:

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. Applications will be accepted until April 21, 2019. Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter. The ultimate starting date is September 1, 2019.

Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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posted: 13 March 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.