The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres we are part of the largest scientific organization in Germany. With approximately 1,500 employees our key mission is to secure a profound understanding of the systems and processes of solid Earth, to develop strategies and options for action in addressing global change and its impacts on a regional level, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, to ensure the sustainable provision of energy and raw materials for a high-tech society and to evaluate the influence of human activity on system Earth.

For section 4.5 Basin Modelling (department “Geosystems”), we are looking for a:

PhD Position (f_m_x) „Building a digital twin of the lithosphere in the eastern Mediterranean“ Reference Number 8669

Umwelt Image

The overall goal of the PhD position is to develop a 3D model of the eastern Mediterranean to test different geodynamic hypotheses on deformation dynamics.

Geodynamics is of key societal importance for the eastern Mediterranean region, as it influences various natural hazards that can cause great damage. Examples include the occurrence of earthquakes, volcanic activity, or the risk of tsunamis associated with both. To better assess such impacts, the physical state of the lithosphere must be described quantitatively. To do this, novel process models must be developed that represent large-scale processes and their feedback while being consistent with available observations. This requires the consistent integration of available geoscientific observations into 3D virtual representations of the crust and upper mantle as well as further development of existing software simulating coupled thermo-hydraulic-mechanical processes.

The focus of the PhD thesis is therefore on the integration of available multi-disciplinary geoscientific observations on the one hand and the numerical simulation of thermal-hydraulic-mechanical processes as well as of the geodynamic effects on the other hand.

Your responsibilities:

  • Integration of geological, geophysical, geothermal and geodetic data into consistent 3D structural models representing the main characteristics of the sediments, crystalline crust and upper mantle in the Eastern Mediterranean region
  • Numerical simulations of coupled thermal-hydraulic-mechanical processes considering the heterogeneities present
  • Coupling simulations of subsurface processes with simulations of other working groups working, for example, on surface processes
  • Validation of simulation results against observations
  • Quantification of the long-term effects of varying boundary conditions
  • Interpretation and publication of results

Your qualifications:

  • A master's degree or diploma in physics, mathematics or geosciences is mandatory
  • In-depth knowledge of thermohydraulic-mechanical relationships in the lithosphere
  • Good knowledge of geophysics and deformation mechanisms
  • Basic knowledge of 3D structural modelling and numerical methods
  • Programming skills (e.g. Python, Fortran or C/C++) are an advantage
  • Very good English language skills

What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • 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
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus
Start date: 1st February 2024
Fixed term: 36 months
Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.
Working hours: Part-time 75% (currently 29.25 h/week)
Place of work: Potsdam

Have we piqued your interest?

If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 30th November 2023. Please use our online application form only.

Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv[at], who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba[at]

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Mrs. Professor Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth via email at or phone +49 331-6264. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 331 6264-28787.