Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

PhD-position: Clues from Ancient Heat

Elucidating the role of Mid Norwegian Sea breakup volcanism in relation to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) and perturbations of the global Carbon cycle

This vacancy is the result of the collaboration between Utrecht University and NIOZ and the participation in the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) by NWO/The Netherlands. The departments of Ocean Systems (OCS) and Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB) at Royal NIOZ (Texel) is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate holding a master degree related to (aspects of) paleoecology (marine palynology), (organic) biogeochemistry, and/or marine geology in general.

LOCATION: Royal NIOZ - Texel
VACANCY ID: 2021-70
CLOSING DATE: December 15, 2021


Royal NIOZ is the national oceanographic institute and principally performs academically excellent multidisciplinary fundamental and frontier applied marine research addressing important scientific and societal questions pertinent to the functioning of oceans and seas. Second, NIOZ serves as national marine research facilitator (NMF) for The Netherlands scientific community. Third, NIOZ stimulates and supports multidisciplinary fundamental, and frontier applied marine research, education, and marine policy development in the national and international context. Royal NIOZ hosts a highly international group of more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses a wide variety of world-class laboratories.


The Faculty of Geosciences at UU offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 2,600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organization. The Faculty is organized in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning. The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The Department hosts a highly international group of more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses a wide variety of world-class laboratories.


The emplacement of the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP), which ultimately resulted in continental break-up and formation of the North Atlantic Ocean has been implicated as the driver for the warmest climatic phase of the Cenozoic: the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM, some 56 million years ago. Recently, IODP Expedition 396 set out to elucidate the role of NAIP volcanism in the rapid global warming during the PETM. One of the main aims was to document and constrain how such igneous provinces may perturb the global Carbon cycle, but also to resolve their influence on local and regional ecosystems. The expedition yields a suite of PETM successions which allow paleoclimatological and paleoenvironmental analysis in unprecedented detail and resolution. Working in concert with the entire Science Party of IODP X396, this project will lead to providing answers to important outstanding questions - like e.g., what the relationship between PETM volcanism and global warming truly was, or how the marine bioproductivity cycles at ~60 degrees northern latitudes functioned during the anomalously warm PETM climate, to generating a record of PETM climatic variability with a decadal-scale resolution.

Your project: Generating high resolution marine palynological (dinocyst) and organic biomolecular information across the PETM of the X396 sections, and integrating the thus acquired dataset with the various other, related high resolution paleoenvironmental studies (incl. potentially various other micropaleontological, palaeobotanical (pollen), and/or geochemical (isotope) analyses) of fellow IODP X396 researchers, to establish various unique records, suitable for answering the research questions, for example how volcanism influence local ecosystems.


We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate holding a MSc degree combining aspects of (paleo) ecology, geobiology, biogeochemistry and marine geology. The candidate will be part of an interdisciplinary international team of paleoecologists, geochemists, and sedimentary and igneous geologists, and is expected to perform research at OCS, MMB and GEO/AW. Due to the international character of our research, good command of the English language is a prerequisite.

We highly encourage applicants from all members of our community and of diverse background, including LGBTIQ+ communities, to join us.


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWOI (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research-Institutes Foundation). We offer a position for a starting period of 1 years (fulltime). By the end of this first year, the employment will be extended for a fixed-term to a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3%, flexible work arrangements and arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).


For additional information about this vacancy, please contact the project leader; Prof dr. Henk Brinkhuis. For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).

For more information about the Department of Earth Sciences, at Utrecht University, see here; for more information about the Department of Ocean Systems (OCS) at NIOZ, see here; for more information about the Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB) department at NIOZ, see here. Find more information about the UU-NIOZ projects here.

If you are interested in this position please visit our website and apply for this job by submitting a motivation letter with your CV and the names of three references.

posted: 10 November 2021   Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.