PhD Student Opportunity in Marine Geophysics

Geophysical characterisation of gas hydrate systems on New Zealand's Hikurangi subduction margin

Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Andrew Gorman
Department of Geology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Co-Supervisor: Dr. Gareth Crutchley
Department of Marine Geoscience, GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

We are seeking an enthusiastic and highly motivated student to undertake a PhD project in marine seismology based in the Department of Geology at the University of Otago in Dunedin. The project will also make use of the resources and expertise available at GNS Science in Lower Hutt. In short, this project will be based around an integrated geophysical evaluation of some aspect of the substantial gas hydrate province on the active Hikurangi Margin (east of New Zealand's North Island). This assessment will be undertaken using a combination of multichannel controlled-source seismic and multibeam bathymetry data.

This PhD will be part of a new Research Programme funded by the New Zealand government that aims to evaluate the economic opportunities and environmental implications of energy extraction from gas hydrates. Because the gas hydrate system is an important factor in determining the stability, chemistry and biology of seafloor environments, there is an urgent need to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of producing natural gas from or beneath gas hydrates. This PhD project will contribute to one of the main aims of the Research Programme:

  • Determining New Zealand-specific frameworks (geological and economic) for energy production from (and through) gas hydrates.

This project will involve the synthesis of an extensive recently acquired set of petroleum industry multi-channel seismic reflection data with existing and new targeted academic seismic surveys. The PhD project will involve aspects of seismic data acquisition, processing and analysis, and will involve collaboration with GNS Science. Facilities used for the research will include the acquisition capabilities of the R/V Tangaroa (New Zealand's marine research flagship which will be used to collect new data for this Research Programme), and seismic analysis facilities at the University of Otago (including a Linux-based computing suite with GLOBE Claritas, Hampson-Russell, and IHS Kingdom licences). It is anticipated that during the course of the project, the student will spend some time at sea and also in residence at GNS Science under the supervision of the co-supervisor there.

Applicants with a strong background in geophysics (particularly reflection seismology) and/or sedimentary basin geology, and with demonstrated academic and research excellence at the Bachelor's or Master's level, are encouraged to apply. The project includes three years of scholarship and fee support for the successful candidate, plus research and travel support to national and international conferences. Both New Zealand and international students are encouraged to apply. International students will need to arrange for an appropriate visa to study in New Zealand. We anticipate appointment will begin any time after June 2018.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, a complete CV (including details of academic transcripts), and the names and contact information of at least two referees in a single pdf file by email to:

Applications will be evaluated the week of 12-16 March 2018, but the position will remain open until filled.

Further information about the Department of Geology at the University of Otago and GNS Science can be found at and

posted: 13 February 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.