Postdoctoral Researcher on 'Modelling geomechanics, dynamic earthquake rupture and two-phase flow in poro-visco-elasto-plastic media' (3 yrs)

Job description:

The Department of Earth Sciences currently seeks a highly-motivated, high-potential applicant for a postdoctoral position to work within the research project Modelling geomechanics, dynamic earthquake rupture and two-phase flow in poro-visco-elasto-plastic media that is a work package of the project InFocus: An Integrated Approach to Estimating Fault Slip Occurrence awarded to Dr F.V. Vossepoel (TUD), Dr Y. van Dinther (UU) and Dr A. Niemeijer (UU). The position is part of the DeepNL programme funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), which consists of 8 projects and aims to investigate the physical mechanisms behind the induced seismicity in the subsurface, e.g. in the gas reservoir in the province of Groningen (The Netherlands).

The Postdoctoral Researcher will further develop and apply a forward model simulating seismicity and fluid flow in poro-visco-elasto-plastic media. The dynamic and predictive 4D hydro-thermo-mechanical model will resolve the feedback between geomechanics, dynamic earthquake rupture and two-phase flow in a fully coupled system. The code that will be used is a modern high-performance multi-physics solver for coupled nonlinear problems written in C++ and is based on proven libraries like PETSc and Kokkos. It has been used to model both dynamic earthquake rupture and tectonic loading as well as two-phase flow in idealised 3D settings. The goal of this project is to resolve and validate their interaction and apply the code to laboratory and reservoir settings. The implementation will be validated through analytical solutions and a comparison with laboratory and data assimilation experiments developed by the PhD candidates in the project. Systematic numerical experiments combined with laboratory equivalents will be run to understand the role of, and feedback between, friction and porous flow in finite-width faults. In collaboration with the InFocus team, the Postdoc will prioritise the physical processes operating at reservoir- and laboratory-scales and validate the data-assimilation framework for seismicity. The key deliverable of this project is a validated 2D and 3D software package integrating two-phase fluid flow and dynamic earthquake rupture and seismic wave propagation in a unified poro-visco-elasto-plastic framework.

The project is funded for 3 years and will involve collaborations with Dr Y. van Dinther (Utrecht University), Casper Pranger (ETH Zurich), Dr Ir Femke Vossepoel (TU Delft), Prof. René de Borst (University of Sheffield), Prof. Taras Gerya (ETH Zurich), and the InFocus team and affiliated scientists. Co-supervison of the InFocus PhD candidates can be arranged.


The successful candidate should be highly motivated and ambitious with affinity and skills in (geo)mechanical and/or fluid flow modelling. Candidates are required to have a PhD in Quantitative Earth Sciences, Computer Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Physics or Applied Mathematics. Solid experience with numerical model development is a must and experience with C++ and HPC computing is preferred. You are able to work and think independently and collaborate with the project team. You possess excellent writing and verbal communication skills in English.

Terms of employment:

The successful candidate will be offered a position initially for two years, with the possibility that this will be extended to a maximum period of three years in total.

The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €3,123 and €4,274 gross per month for a full-time employment (scale 10 Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities). 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 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 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 Dr Ylona van Dinther ( or Dr Ir Femke Vossepoel ( We recommend to read the project's website.

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. Applications will be accepted until May 15, 2019. Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter. The intended starting date is September 1, 2019, 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: 01 April 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.