Researcher (Postdoc): Deep learning for geophysical observables extraction and inversion: Toward characterizing the Dutch subsurface

The project

The global initiative to complete the energy transition by 2040 puts tremendous pressure on governments and industries. The need for any nation to know the potential of its subsurface to meet the future demand for energy and raw materials, as well as its storage capacity (e.g. CO2, H2) and associated hazards (e.g. induced seismicity, subsidence), is more critical than ever for informing exploration efforts, strategic economic planning, environmental policies, and decision-makers.

The Netherlands has acquired a vast amount of geophysical data over the past 30 years. However, the formal integration and inversion of all available and complementary data have not been yet fully exploited for obtaining unifying, multi-parameter models of the subsurface. This project, funded by the Dutch Science Agency (NWO), will develop novel ways of characterizing the physical state of the subsurface beneath the Netherlands via the formal integration of multiple geophysical (mainly seismological), geochemical/petrological and petrophysical data into a single physics-based framework. Specifically, we will establish a workflow to extract seismological observables from large seismological data sets using both existing and new Deep Learning (DL) techniques to be developed within the project. The retrieved seismological observables will be integrated with other available data sets (e.g. potential fields) and existing models to establish a common database to be inverted using an innovative multi-observable probabilistic platform (e.g. Afonso et al., 2016; 2022). The new DL methods and workflow to extract high-quality seismic information will apply to similar data sets in other regions, opening new opportunities for analysing and using seismic records worldwide. Results will be disseminated through high-quality scientific publications, conference presentations and reports for a wide range of partners. Involvement in teaching and/or supervision of PhD projects related to the project is also expected.

You will collaborate closely with researchers at Utrecht University, KNMI, and Delft University of Technology. You will be a member of a large and dynamic geophysics/computational geodynamics team of PhD students and post-doctoral fellows.

Your project will be embedded in the Applied Earth Sciences department at the Faculty for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation at the University of Twente. You will work together with the partners in the DeepNL INTEGRATION project to develop and generate new tools and models.


  • Afonso et al., (2022), Thermochemical structure and evolution of cratonic lithosphere in Central and South Africa, Nature Geoscience, 15, 405-410.
  • Afonso et al., (2016), 3D multi-observable probabilistic inversion for the compositional and thermal structure of the lithosphere and upper mantle III: Thermochemical Tomography in the Western-Central US. J. Geophys. Res., 121, doi:10.1002/2016JB01304

Your profile

  • You hold (or will soon hold) a PhD in seismology, geophysics, deep learning related to Earth sciences, computer science, physics, applied mathematics, or a related field
  • Good command of spoken and written English
  • Curiosity in geophysical datasets (e.g. seismic, potential fields, etc), and computer programming, e.g. with Python, MATLAB, C and/or Fortran
  • Curiosity in Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations, big data management and dealing with supercomputing facilities
  • Working with a major machine-learning framework (e.g. PyTorch, TensorFlow, JAX) and familiarity with geochemistry, inverse theory and/or thermodynamics are desirable but not essential
  • A socially engaged, independent and creative researcher with good conceptual, communication, problem-solving and organizational skills, and an interest in engaging in team-based collaborations

Our offer

  • An inspiring multidisciplinary, international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda
  • A full-time position for 4 years
  • Gross monthly salary between € 3.720,- and € 5.090,- per month depending on experience and qualifications (UFO profile Researcher 4)
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%
  • Excellent support for research and facilities for professional and personal development
  • A solid pension scheme
  • A total of 41 holiday days per year in case of full-time employment
  • Excellent working conditions, an exciting scientific environment, and a green and lively campus
  • Excellent working conditions, an exciting scientific environment, and a green and lively campus.

Information and application

For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Dr Islam Fadel (email: or Dr Juan Carlos Afonso (email: You are also invited to visit our homepage.

Please submit your application HERE before 1 May 2024, including:

  • A motivation letter (max 2 A4 pages) outlining your motivation and fit for the position
  • A detailed CV (including the names/information of two references, your publications, projects and working experience)
  • An academic transcript of BSc and MSc education, including grades, and your PhD thesis or the latest draft in English (or if your PhD thesis is not in English, a 5-page summary of your thesis in English)

Applications that do not include all three will not be considered.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for interviews which will probably take place during the second or third week of May 2024. Preferred starting date of position: between July 1st and October 1st, 2024.

About the position

The University of Twente wants to be an organisation that optimally deploys diversity, talents, and capabilities in the labour market for now and in the future. In the framework of our diversity and inclusiveness policy, we strongly stimulate people with a (work) disability to apply for this position.

The University of Twente is committed to providing a working environment where everyone is valued, respected, and supported to progress. Our priority is to ensure that no one is disadvantaged based on their ethnicity, gender, culture, disability, LGBTQ+ identities, family and caring responsibilities, age, or religion. We encourage everyone who shares these values to apply.

Selection Committee:

Heather Handley
Mark van der Meijde
Juan Carlos Afonso
Islam Fadel

posted: 11 March 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.