PhD on Forecasting Subsidence in the Groningen Reservoir Region

PhD on Forecasting Subsidence in the Groningen Reservoir Region

Published Deadline Location
12 Mar 8 Apr Utrecht

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Do you want to join our team to develop a model aimed at forecasting surface deformation in the Groningen gas field region? Apply now!

Job description

Do you want to join our team to develop a model aimed at forecasting surface deformation in the Groningen gas field region? We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate to do research on forecasting subsidence!

Your job
Surface subsidence is a significant problem above the gas reservoir in the Netherlands province of Groningen, affecting the environment, buildings, infrastructure, and water management. Compaction of the reservoir continues to drive subsidence, but there also are other, shallower, earth processes that have a significant footprint on the subsidence. Groningen is located close to sea level, so it is highly relevant to answer questions like 'how long will subsidence continue?' and 'how much more subsidence will occur?'.

The DeepNL programme of the Dutch Research Council is funding our proposal to develop a model aimed at forecasting surface deformation in the Groningen gas field region. At this stage we seek to fill two PhD positions in a collaborative project of researchers at Utrecht University and Delft University of Technology aimed at quantifying the physical processes that drive subsidence from InSAR, GPS, and geodetic levelling observations.

Utrecht University is looking for an enthusiastic PhD researcher on Forecasting Subsidence in the Groningen Reservoir Region to become a part of our team, consisting of eight members. You will join the Tectonophysics research group and the Delta Evolution and Subsurface Processes group at the faculty of Geosciences.

Your main tasks will be to:
  • develop a physics-based surface deformation model driven by groundwater variations in unsaturated soils;
  • develop a mechanical model of surface deformation due to compaction of deep (> 200 m, sub-Holocene) rock layers driven by pore pressure changes in the gas reservoir and aquifers;
  • couple these models and optimize the resulting model to make it most suitable for assimilation of geodetic time series data.

In this collaborative project, the TU Delft is looking for a PhD candidate on satellite InSAR and data assimilation for subsidence analysis to join their interdisciplinary team. This position will be mostly located at TU Delft and will also operate in the InSAR research team as well as in the data assimilation team of TU Delft. Check the vacancy at the TU Delft website.

The selected candidates for both positions will work closely together.


Utrecht University


We are looking for a colleague with multiple of the following qualifications:
  • affinity to work in a diverse environment of junior and senior scientists;
  • ability to work independently and take initiative;
  • good organisational and communication skills;
  • excellent skills in writing and speaking English;
  • an open, critical, and interdisciplinary mindset;
  • a Master’s degree in geophysics, aerospace engineering, physical geography, or earth sciences, ultimately obtained at the start of the project.

This is a diverse project, and the ideal candidate is a jack-of-all-trades who possesses vast and diverse knowledge and skills in all project disciplines and who also excels in all topic areas. We recognise however that it is more realistic that the you demonstrate a solid grasp of one or few of the following subject areas:
  • continuum mechanics;
  • mechanical properties of soils and rocks;
  • numerical computing including writing code;
  • algebra and solving differential equations.

We therefore expect you to demonstrate curiosity, intellectual versatility, and a deep interest in exploring and mastering new subjects.

You are expected to publish your results in peer-reviewed academic journals as Open Science contributions. 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.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a full-time PhD position, initially for one year with extension to four years in total upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period;
  • 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.


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. Shaping science, sharing 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 candidates 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.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3635



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584CB, Utrecht

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