PhD position on Induced Seismicity and Geothermal Energy Production

PhD position on Induced Seismicity and Geothermal Energy Production

Published Deadline Location
7 Mar today Utrecht
Research with us how to understand and mitigate induced seismicity! You will build on lessons from Groningen to facilitate a safe usage of geothermal energy.

Job description

Do you wish to contribute to safely and sustainably using the subsurface for the energy transition? Then you can help us to understand if and when induced earthquakes can occur due to geothermal energy exploration and how to mitigate them.

Your job
We learned a lot by studying induced seismicity due to gas extraction in Groningen. In our multidisciplinary project NEPTUNUS (“Novel methods for the Evaluation and Physical understanding of the Transient natUre of iNdUced Seismicity”) we want to build on the state-of-the-art tools and lessons learned in Groningen to understand which variables and parameters are crucial for the occurrence and mitigation of induced seismicity. The ultimate objective is to provide constraints on the envelope for safe utilisation of the subsurface, which can feed into existing and upcoming seismic hazard assessments for future subsurface use.

We seek an enthusiastic and ambitious PhD candidate to model and understand induced seismicity and assess key model parameters and state variables for depletion and geothermal energy production. You will:
  • develop a stochastic modelling workflow for the representation of sub seismic low-offset reservoir faults in a state-of-the-art physics-based, data-driven modelling framework to quantify fault loading and seismic and aseismic slip;
  • analyse the importance of sub seismic faults and test and calibrate this model to the Groningen field data and operational geothermal data and assess uncertainties of the state and parameters of seismicity models;
  • analyse differences, resemblances, and sensitivities of characteristics of induced seismicity due to gas depletion and geothermal energy production;
  • apply the modelling approach through a sensitivity analysis and data assimilation study to a geothermal reservoir in the West Netherlands Basin - if seismic reactivation occurs, test mitigation strategies.

The research team is highly interdisciplinary and includes Professor Jan-Diederik van Wees (supervisor, UU/TNO), Dr Ylona van Dinther (UU), Dr Loes Buijze (TNO) as well as other investigators of NEPTUNUS including Dr Alice Gabriel (UCSD/LMU Munich), Dr Thomas Ulrich (LMU Munich), Dr Ir Femke Vossepoel (TUD), Professor Jan Dirk Jansen (TUD), and Dr Annemarie Muntendam-Bos (TUD/SodM). The research will be performed at Utrecht University and TNO.

A personalised training programme will be set up, reflecting your training needs and career objectives. About 20% of your time will be dedicated to this training component, which includes training on the job in assisting in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes of the Earth Sciences department at Utrecht University.

NEPTUNUS also includes two other PhD projects at TU Delft and University of Groningen entitled:

Would you like to join this project, but your interest and expertise lie more in engineering or systems and control theory? Please also check the other PhD positions at Delft University of Technology and University of Groningen.

Furthermore, this project is part of and builds on knowledge obtained in DeepNL, a long-term Dutch research programme. DeepNL aims at an improved fundamental understanding of how the subsurface responds to human interventions. One important goal is to learn from gas extraction in Groningen to facilitate a safe and sustainable use of the subsurface for geothermal energy and underground CO2 and hydrogen storage.

Specifications

Utrecht University

Requirements

The successful candidate should be ambitious and have a Master's degree in Earth Sciences, Physics, Applied Mathematics or Engineering with demonstrable affinity with geophysical or sub-surface processes, ultimately obtained before the start of the position.

We seek someone with analytical (theoretical) and/or computational skills and experience with studying earthquakes, faults, and/or reservoirs would be an advantage. A broad interest in earthquakes, and the willingness and capacity to interact with the team members, are essential.

The candidate should be proficient in English (C1 level in speaking and writing) and have excellent scientific writing and presenting skills. The candidate is an independent thinker, enthusiastic team player and has good communication skills.

If you already have a PhD degree, unfortunately, we cannot consider you for this position.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for one year, with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period;
  • a working week of 36 hours and a gross monthly salary between €2,770 and €3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.

Employer

Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The home base of the position is at the Department of Earth Sciences. The department 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 tenured staff of over 50 scientists and more than 110 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Our research programme spans four intertwined themes: Climate & Life, Earth interior, Earth materials, and Environmental Earth Sciences. We house or have access to a wide variety of world-class laboratories.

The department and its facilities are located at Utrecht Science Park. Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands with a population of nearly 360,000 and forms a hub in the middle of the country. Its historical city centre and its modern central station can easily be reached from the Science Park by public transport or by a 15-minute bicycle ride. Utrecht boasts beautiful canals with extraordinary wharf cellars housing cafés and terraces by the water, as well as a broad variety of shops and boutiques.

Additional information

For more information, please contact Jan Diederik van Wees at Jan_Diederik.vanWees@tno.nl, or Ylona van Dinther at y.vandinther@uu.nl.

Candidates for this vacancy will be recruited by Utrecht University. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

Note that international candidates that need a visa/work permit for the Netherlands require at least four months processing time after selection and acceptance. This will be arranged with help of the International Service Desk (ISD) of our university. Finding appropriate housing in or near Utrecht is your own responsibility, but the ISD may be able to advise you therewith. In case of general questions about working and living in The Netherlands, please consult the Dutch Mobility Portal.

Specifications

  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Education
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3712

Employer

Location

Princetonlaan 8a, 3584CB, Utrecht

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Application procedure

As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation and the (e-mail) addresses of at least two referees via the 'apply now' button.

If you would alternatively like to be considered for other positions within NEPTUNUS at TU Delft, i.e., on understanding the nonstationary nature of induced seismicity or on observability and identifiability for data assimilation, please inform us and motivate your first and second preference. We aim for a quick selection procedure after the application deadline. The position can start as soon as June 1st 2024 and ultimately by Fall 2024.

Application procedure

Application procedure

As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation and the (e-mail) addresses of at least two referees via the 'apply now' button.

If you would alternatively like to be considered for other positions within NEPTUNUS at TU Delft, i.e., on understanding the nonstationary nature of induced seismicity or on observability and identifiability for data assimilation, please inform us and motivate your first and second preference. We aim for a quick selection procedure after the application deadline. The position can start as soon as June 1st 2024 and ultimately by Fall 2024.

Make sure to apply no later than 14 Apr 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).