Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues. Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

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

Postdoc position in experimental mineral science and stable isotope geochemistry (3 yrs)

We seek a highly motivated postdoctoral candidate to conduct flow-through experiments and chemical analyses at Utrecht University, as well as isotopic analyses in collaboration with Dr Philip Pogge von Strandmann at Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz, Germany.

Clays are abundant in many of the environments that people interact with and the reactivity of clays plays a crucial role in the chemistry and hydrology of those systems. Clay formation in geothermal systems, for example, can clog pores, and therefore decrease the power-harvesting potential of geothermal power plants. In addition, the slow growth of clays is thought to limit the extent of mineral weathering, which is considered one of the key feedbacks in the global carbon cycle. Despite the importance of clay reactivity, it proves challenging to measure. However, in recent years several studies have demonstrated the possibility of using lithium isotopes as a tracer of clay formation and dissolution, as lighter lithium is preferentially incorporated into clays. Although this tracer is promising, there are several unknowns that have limited its application in the field, so far. The aim of this project, funded through the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Dutch Research Council), is to resolve these unknowns by probing the interaction of Li with clays, using experiments.

As our postdoctoral researcher you will use a combination of tools including mass spectrometry for the analysis of Li and its isotopes, as well as 4D (3D space + time) X-ray tomography. Experiments will be carried out at pressure and temperature conditions up to those expected in the Dutch subsurface, particularly for sites that are used and are of interest for geothermal energy. These experiments will yield novel information into the interaction of Li with clays. Thus, the experiments will enable us to test the feasibility of using Li isotopes as tracers of clay reactivity in areas which are difficult to sample directly. In addition, it will allow us to provide critical input, required for models on climate change. The project will focus on research. This may include BSc and MSc student research projects, in which you will be expected to take a leading role.


Applicants should have a PhD degree in Earth Sciences, ideally with a strong background in experimental, low-temperature mineral science and preferentially including the use of stable isotope geochemistry. Established skills in mass spectrometry analysis of isotopes and/or X-ray tomography is preferred. In addition, you should be willing to work on an interdisciplinary project, travel abroad (e.g. to Germany), and to expand your knowledge of analytical techniques. You should be proficient in English and have excellent scientific writing and presenting skills. You are an enthusiastic team player and have good communicational skills.

Terms of employment:

You will be offered a temporary full-time postdoctoral position for the duration of three years. The minimum gross salary is €3,270 and the maximum gross salary is €3,807 (scale 10.3-10.7 of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities) per month, at a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 %. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment external link, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme.

About the organisation:

The Utrecht Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface and atmosphere, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth. With a population of 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 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 tenured staff of over 45 scientists and more than 110 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Our research programme spans four intertwined themes: Climate & Life, Earth interior, Earth materials, and Environmental Earth Sciences. We house or have access to a wide variety of world-class laboratories.

Additional information

Informal enquiries may be sent to Dr Helen King (project leader) via h.e.king@uu.nl.

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. The application deadline is November 30th, 2021. Evaluations and interviews are planned before the end of 2021 or early January. We seek to initiate the position as soon as possible, but no later than April 1st, 2022.

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

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posted: 27 October 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.