PhD position in experimental fluid-rock interaction (4 yrs)

Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.

The Department of Earth Sciences is now looking for highly-motivated, high-potential applicant to fill a:

PhD position in experimental fluid-rock interaction (4 yrs)

Project: ‘Constraining the evolution of transport pathways & chemistry of crustal fluids during geothermal processes’

An interdisciplinary team, consisting of seven universities and one company seeks to employ a team of early stage Researchers (ESRs) within the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network ‘Fluid-NET’. The overall scientific aim of FluidNET is to contribute to the underpinning data, development and testing of new nano-to-crustal-scale models of crustal fluid flux by constraining the time and length scales, mechanisms and provenance of crustal fluid fluxes at different crustal levels. To truly advance research on fluid fluxes, and thus impact society and in particular industry, a new generation of skilled personnel is required, who can work with such complex systems, and make interpretations and predictions based on large and incomplete datasets. FluidNET will provide a stimulating cross-disciplinary environment for the training of a cohort of ESRs in skills that are essential across the resources sector. Our training programme will challenge the ESRs with societally relevant questions, and will encourage them to ‘think outside the box’. They will learn to apply field observations, innovative analytical techniques and creative modelling approaches, to communicate effectively with a broad range of audiences, and to engage effectively with end-users of their research. Such skills will meet future employment demand and will enhance Europe’s capacity to provide innovative solutions to critical resource requirements.

At Utrecht University we seek a highly motivated PhD candidate to constrain the evolution of transport pathways and chemistry of crustal fluids during geothermal processes. The candidate will carry out novel geothermal experiments using a combination of in situ tools encompassing vibrational spectroscopy, 4D (3D space + time) X-ray tomography and ex situ techniques such as advanced electron microscopy. Experiments will be carried out at pressure and temperature conditions akin to those in the upper and middle crust specifically focusing on Si-rich geothermal environments. These experiments will yield novel information into the physico-chemical mechanisms that determine the feedbacks between the evolution of (reaction-induced) fluid pathways and fluid chemistry. This will provide critical information for future models that can predict fluid pathway generations and fluid chemistries at elevated pressure and temperatures.

Up to 10 percent of your time will be dedicated to assisting in the BSc and MSc teaching programmes of the department. Together you and your supervisors will set up a Training & Supervision plan for the additional education and supervision that you yourself specifically need.

In the context of FluidNET 12 PhD projects are offered in total. The PhD projects are positions with funding for three years, but the Utrecht University-based project receives an additional funding and will be for four years. The positions are open for individuals from any nationality with the following restrictions in terms of eligibility:

  1. Mobility rule: Fellows may not have lived for more than 12 months out of the prior 36 months in the country where they wish to take up the fellowship;
  2. Early Stage Researcher rule: ESRs are in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers, as counted from the start of their MSc (or equivalent) research project, and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree, and
  3. Admission rule: The applicant is at the time of enrolment in the possession of a diploma that is a recognised prerequisite for entering a PhD programme (for example an MSc diploma).

All 12 position are accessible via the recruitment page of the FluidNET website, but applications proceed via the local on-line channels of the individual FluidNET partner institutions, You can apply for more than one position but no more than 3.


Applicants for the PhD position at Utrecht University should have a Master of Science degree in earth sciences, physics or chemistry ideally with a strong background in experimental (fluid) geochemistry, and/or mineralogy/mineral physics. A willingness to learn several analytical techniques, including vibrational spectroscopy, X-ray tomography and electron microscopy is essential. A broad interest in geosciences and physical chemistry is warranted, as is the willingness and capacity to interact in a multidisciplinary team. The candidate should be proficient in English and have excellent scientific writing and presenting skills. The candidate is an enthusiastic team player and has good communicational skills.

Terms of employment:

You will be offered 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. Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary starts with € 2,395 in the first year and increases to € 3,061 in the fourth year of employment with a full-time appointment. The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. In addition, we offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions.

About the organisation:

The Utrecht Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Sustainable Development, 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 tenured staff of over 45 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.

Additional information

For informal questions, please contact the project leader, Dr Oliver Plümper, at

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. The application deadline is March 1, 2021. Evaluations and interviews are planned for the month of April. We seek to initiate the position as soon as possible and not later than 1 September 2021.

Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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