PhD position in Geodynamics

(geodynamics, tectonics, laboratory modelling)

Fte: 1.0
VU unit: Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences
Closing date: 7 July 2017
Requisition number: 17150

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a leading, innovative and growing university that is at the heart of society and actively contributes to new developments in teaching and research. Our university has ten faculties which span a wide range of disciplines, as well as several institutes, foundations, research centres, and support services. Its campus is located in the fastest-growing economic region in the Netherlands (the "Zuidas" district of Amsterdam). The university employs over 4,500 staff and has more than 23,000 students enrolled in a wide range of tertiary education programs.

The Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences (FALW) offers a range of Bachelor and Master programs. Research at the faculty focuses on Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Life Sciences, and Health Sciences. Cutting-edge research and world-class teaching activities go hand in hand.

At the department of Earth Sciences, we study our dynamic planet from nano- to planetary scale. We quantify the key cycles and interactions in system Earth over timescales from seconds to millions of years by combining fieldwork, lab work and computer simulations. By bringing to bear our fundamental understanding of system Earth and our fresh curiosity we conduct research that is relevant for today's societal challenges including sustainability, climate change and natural hazards. The department's research facilities can be regarded as outstanding, while the department's international focus fosters national and international collaboration, both contributing to high-quality and high-impact research outcomes.


The PhD project forms part of a larger project (a Vici project from NWO, the Dutch National Science Foundation) on the processes of mountain building and continental deformation at subduction and collision zones.

Description of work:

The PhD candidate will develop models of subduction, continental subduction, continent-continent collision and continental deformation to gain new quantitative insight into the geodynamic evolution of the India-Eurasia-Western Pacific collision-subduction system. The candidate will use laboratory-based modelling techniques (analogue modelling) to run experiments in large tanks simulating plate-mantle interaction, subduction and continental deformation. The candidate will use a sophisticated Particle Image Velocimetry technique to quantify, amongst others, the velocity field, strain field and topography through time. The candidate will also run advanced rheological tests and other physical tests on various modelling materials used in the experiments to quantify their rheological and physical behaviour. The candidate will write a PhD thesis based on the research carried out during the project, consisting of a minimum of three first-author papers that are published/to be published in international peer-review journals.

The PhD candidate will form part of a team of academics, postdocs, PhD students and MSc students at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam that focus their research on the geodynamics and tectonics of the solid Earth. The PhD candidate will be trained on site. All the modelling techniques, visualization equipment, rheological equipment and post-processing software required for the project are available in the department.


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate who holds an MSc degree in Geodynamics, Tectonics, Structural Geology or Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, preferably with hands-on experience in laboratory-based modelling (analogue modelling), and is dedicated to pursue a career in science.

Further particulars

The initial appointment will be for a period of 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, it will be extended for another 3 years (total duration of 4 years).

Information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment can be found at and include for example:

  • Remuneration of 8,3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday allowance;
  • Solid pension scheme (ABP);
  • A minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment;


The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel, and ranges from a minimum of 2222 gross per month up to a maximum of 2840 gross per month based on fulltime employment (salary scale 85) for a PhD student.


For additional information please contact Wouter Schellart at


Please send a cover letter (outlining your motivation and research experience, max. 2 pages), CV (max. 4 pages), a publication list, and the names and contact details of two references (all combined into one PDF-file) to Wouter Schellart at with "PhD in geodynamics" in the subject line.

Application deadline: 7 July 2017.

Starting date: no later than 2 October 2017.

posted: 08 June 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.