PhD position in hydrogravimetry

Human reliance on water from mountain catchments is rapidly increasing, yet these regions are among the most severely impacted by climate change. Mountain groundwater plays a vital buffering role, ensuring perennial streamflow down-gradient, but remains challenging to measure accurately. Furthermore, mountain catchments are generally heterogeneous, dynamic, and sparsely-instrumented and there is an acute need for innovative methods that provide quantitative and spatially-resolved information on groundwater storage changes in mountain regions. Time-lapse gravimetry (TLG), a geophysical technique involving measurement of temporal changes in the gravitational field at the Earth's surface, is a highly promising method that could help fill the mountain hydrogeology knowledge gap. However, its full potential in constraining groundwater storage changes, particularly in mountainous areas, remains unexplored.

The project RADMOGG: Resilience and Dynamics of Mountain Groundwater using Gravimetry will determine the limits of TLG as a tool for reducing uncertainty in groundwater storage change estimates. It will also explore the role of alpine inter-catchment groundwater exchange and investigate the vulnerability of mountain groundwater to climate change. These goals will be achieved through extensive field-based investigations and innovative numerical developments.

In conjunction with the supervisor and other collaborators, the student will carry out the following tasks:

  1. Monthly single-day gravimetric surveys in an accessible sub-alpine catchment and targeted seasonal surveys in a semi-remote alpine catchment
  2. Installation of hydrological and meteorological monitoring equipment and the processing of this data
  3. Development of a numerical gravimetric data assimilation framework based, in part, on existing python code
  4. Development and testing of models to understand mountain groundwater storage variability at a range of timescales
  5. (Co-)Authoring of scientific articles and presentations

RADMOGG is a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and led by Dr. Landon Halloran that will commence in 2023. Collaboration with the Alpine Environment Research Centre (CREALP) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), as well as other domestic and international collaborators, is planned.

The PhD position is based at the Centre for Hydrogeology and Geothermics (CHYN) at the University of Neuchâtel under the supervision of Senior Lecturer Dr. Landon Halloran in conjunction with Prof. Philip Brunner and Prof. Daniel Hunkeler. The CHYN offers a stimulating research environment of about 50 collaborators. The candidate will benefit from a comprehensive pool of field and laboratory equipment, technical support staff, and a dynamic PhD school. Information about the Centre and the PI can be found at and

Required qualifications

  • MSc/MEng in Earth Science, Geophysics, Hydro(geo)logy, Environmental Engineering, or a related field
  • Motivation and strong interest/experience in field-based geoscience investigations
  • Programming skills (python experience is an advantage)
  • Fluency and excellent writing skills in English

Desired qualifications

  • Experience with near-surface geophysical techniques (experience with gravimeters and/or the processing of gravimetric data is highly advantageous)
  • Experience with groundwater modelling
  • Driver's license
  • Knowledge of French and/or German is a plus

Duration: 3 years (salary approx. 47-50k CHF/year + pension). Extension possible pending funding and sufficient performance.

Start date: Some flexibility, but early 2023 is ideal.

How to apply: Applications should be sent as a single pdf file and must include:

  • a letter of presentation (1 page) describing motivation and relevant experience
  • a CV
  • the names and contact information of two referees
  • academic transcripts

Please submit the application to application.chyn AT using "[RADMOGG PhD:] your name" in the subject of your email.

Deadline: Evaluation of candidates will occur continuously with a nominal deadline of December 1st for applications to be received. Exceptional candidates may be considered after this date until the position is filled.

For additional information: Please email landon.halloran AT if you have any additional questions regarding the position or the project.

posted: 11 November 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.