PhD position in Engineering Geophysics at UCD

Project title: The use of geophysical properties for predicting climate related deterioration of geotechnical infrastructure

Supervision team: Dr. Shane Donohue (UCD), Dr. Jonathan Chambers (British Geological Survey)

Project description: The world's major transportation arteries are supported by a vast network of earthworks (e.g. embankments/cuttings) that require sustainable cost-effective management, while maintaining an appropriate service level to meet social, economic and environmental needs. Recent extreme weather has highlighted the vulnerability of these slopes, with the resulting failures severely impacting users, operators, and the wider economy. As climate variations are projected to become more extreme, climate resilient infrastructure is becoming an increasingly important international priority.

Recent research has demonstrated the potential benefits of geophysical techniques for non-invasively characterising the heterogeneity and internal condition of geotechnical infrastructure slopes. In particular, this project will investigate the use of seismic geophysical properties as proxies for the representation of key geotechnical properties, in order to support preventative earthwork maintenance practices. The overall aim of the project, which will have both field and laboratory components, is to develop a robust geophysical means of characterising the temporal and spatial condition of geotechnical infrastructure. Field testing will involve assessing the use of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) of fibre-optic cables, to enable near surface seismic monitoring of these slopes.

Position Description: This is a full-time PhD position that is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Geological Survey of Ireland and the Environmental Protection Agency under the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme. In addition to the student stipend, EU fees will be covered by the project. The successful candidate will primarily be based in the School of Civil Engineering, University College Dublin. All applications submitted will be treated equally and evaluated impartially on their merits, irrespective of the applicants' gender, origin or identity.

Candidate Experience: The candidate should have a minimum upper second class honours Bachelor's or Master's degree in Geophysics, or a closely related discipline.

Application: Please e-mail a CV (max. 2 pages) and a cover letter (max. 1 page) outlining your experience and motivation to Assoc. Prof. Shane Donohue ( The successful candidate should be willing to start in Q2 2021.


posted: 30 April 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.