The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association we are part of the largest German scientific organization. With around 1,300 employees (including our guests) we develop a sound understanding of the systems and processes of the solid Earth as well as strategies and options for action to face global change and its regional impacts, to understand natural hazards and reduce associated risks, and to assess the influence of humans on the Earth's system.

As a partner in Geo.X, the GFZ has access to an excellent network of other geoscience institutions in Potsdam and Berlin. This largest regional concentration of geoscientific competence in Europe offers first-class cooperation and development opportunities.

For section 2.2 "Geophysical Imaging" (department 2 "Geophysics"), we are looking for a:

PhD Position in Distributed Acoustic Sensing and Volcano-seismology
(SPIN ESR 4.4) Reference Number 4801

General information

This PhD position is one of the 15 Early Stage Researcher (ESR) positions within the SPIN project. SPIN is an Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA).

SPIN will focus on training 15 PhD candidates in emerging measurement technologies in seismology. We will research the design of monitoring systems for precursory changes in material properties, all while optimizing observation strategies. The unique interdisciplinary and intersectoral network will enable PhDs to gain international expertise at excellent research institutions, with a meaningful exposure of each PhD to other disciplines and sectors, thus going far beyond the education at a single PhD programme. For further information on the project, please consult our website at:

Project description

Research in volcanology focuses on the understanding of complex volcanic processes and their relationship with volcanic phenomena and the volcanic structures. Explosive activity at active volcanoes produces acoustic waves in the atmosphere, seismic waves in the subsurface and permanent deformation. In the heterogeneous volcanic edifice the seismo-acoustic frequencies document particularly the complex ground mechanical behaviour. Using a set of multipara­metric datasets acquired at Etna volcano (Italy), including infrasound, seismic and fibre optic cable Distributed Acoustic Sensing data, we will understand better the structural and dynamic nature of the seismo-acoustic wavefield. Within SPIN, the ESR will analyse and attempt to model the complex behaviour of rock response with this unprecedented dense spatial information. This may possibly lead us towards understanding of non-linear processes in the ground. The results will be aided with laboratory observations and may improve time dependent assessment of natural hazards related to material failure and ground response.

Required skills and experience

We welcome applications from candidates who fulfill the following criteria:

  • a completed research-oriented university degree, such as a Master's degree in a relevant field (e.g. Geophysics, Physics, etc.)
  • an outstanding academic track record
  • a good command of English, both verbal and written
  • dedication and enthusiasm for research, combined with scientific curiosity, reliability and the capacity to teamwork in an interdisciplinary environment
  • background in seismology, wave propagation
  • strong programming ability (python, matlab)
  • motivation to work in an interdisciplinary and international team
  • willingness for research visits of several weeks at partner institutions of SPIN

Please ensure that you fulfill the following eligibility criteria for ESR (Early Stage Researcher) positions in H2020 MSCA-ITNs, as ineligible candidates cannot be considered:

Starting date: ideally 1st September 2021
Fixed term: 3 years
Working hours: full-time (currently 39 h/week)
Salary: depends on family status and will be around 2000 €/month net
Location: Potsdam

What we offer:

  • intergration in a versatile European training network with dedicated workshops, research visits and high level of intellectual exchange with your peers and supervisors
  • close supervision and technical support
  • ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic, interdisciplinary and international research environment at GFZ
  • state-of-the-art equipment
  • public service benefits
  • extensive training opportunities
  • professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • flexible working hours and conditions
  • support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • institute day-care centre on site
  • working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • in walking distance of Potsdam main station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Application Procedure

The application deadline is 1st April 2021. Application evaluations will start immediately, and will continue until all positions are filled. We wish to reflect the diversity of society and we welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. The selection will be exclusively based on qualification without regard to gender identity, sexual orientation religion, national origin or age.

Applications must include:

  • a cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position
  • a CV including relevant competences, skills and publication list, if applicable
  • copies of degree certificate(s) and transcripts of records for previous studies (Bachelor and/or Master) - Please indicate expected date of graduation if your Master's degree is not completed.
  • contact information of two references
  • a copy of the SPIN application form

To apply (A) fill in the SPIN application form (B) apply online at (C) send your application documents additionally in one single pdf file with filename "SPIN_YourLastname_YourFirstname.pdf" to

In case of any further queries relating to the role's responsibilities, please contact Dr. Philippe Jousset on If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact Ms Poralla on +49 331 288-28787.

Data handling

By applying to a PhD position, you agree that all data concerning your application may be stored electronically and distributed among the supervisors involved in the selection procedure within the MSCA ITN SPIN. If you do not agree, your application can not be processed further, due to the project’s centralised recruitment process. The data are used solely for the recruitment process and we do not share information about you with any third party.

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. We therefore very much welcome applications from qualified women. In the case of equal aptitude, severely disabled persons are given preferential consideration in accordance with the Code of Social Law IX.

Your personal data will be treated in line with Art. 6 (1b) and Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with § 26 BbgDSG during the selection process. After the selection process has been concluded, your application documents will be deleted, in line with data protection regulation.