early stage researcher PhD position (ESR) on "Impacts of climatic changes on fluvial sediment fluxes in north western Europe: the Middle and Late Pleistocene Meuse river system"

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • early stage researcher PhD position (ESR) on "Impacts of climatic changes on fluvial sediment fluxes in north western Europe: the Middle and Late Pleistocene Meuse river system"
  • University Graduate
Are you interested in fluvial sedimentology and geomorphology and would you like to do a PhD study? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Location: AMSTERDAM
FTE: 1.0


Job description

  1. This PhD position is within the framework of a European ITN project named S2S-FUTURE: SIGNAL PROPAGATION IN SOURCE TO SINK for the FUTURE of earth Resources and Energies involving 15 PhD positions.
The PhD student will collect morphological, sedimentological, provenance and grain size data of fluvial sediments deposited around the Mid Pleistocene climate transition for the Meuse river terrace deposits and correlatable sediments in the downstream basin. The project involves field work and mapping in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium, data mining (CPT’s, corings, geo-electrics), dating (cosmogenic, paleomagnetic, luminescence), modelling, and research stays (secondment) at University of Bern, Switzerland (cosmogenic dating Prof. F. Schlunegger; 5 months), and TNO Geological survey of the Netherlands (discussions and data mining, Dr. F.S. Busschers and Dr R. Bouroullec).

The PhD student will be also involved in scientific/soft-skills meetings and in research activities conducted in other laboratories/companies from Europe and associated countries.
An important component of the training will be the participation to 3 main major “Summer Institutes”:
Summer 2020: “Dragonstone” – South-Pyrenees  Spain and France: an innovative combination of field excursion and computer modeling of surface processes from source to sink.
Summer 2021: “The Factory” – Norway, Great Britain and Switzerland: field visit of modern S2S systems and course intensive program of technical and soft skills to accelerate the students’ research, write and present their results, consolidate their profiles and develop concrete plans for their future.
Summer 2022: “Inside Africa” – South-Africa: an immersion of ESRs in the modern source-to-sink system of a continental-scale large river, the Orange in Southern Africa, with high economic implications for mining industries.

In addition to these major milestones of the program, the PhD students will 1) continuously develop their core research skills via their own research project locally and within the network while at secondments and conferences, 2) receive a mandatory amount of hard and soft-skills training specific to their own doctoral school, along with mentoring by joint supervising bodies, 3) use EGU conferences both as dissemination events for ESRs results and network events for progress reports and evaluations, and 4) collaborate into practical activities aimed at network-structuring legacy deliverables.

The goal of S2S-FUTURE is to understand, quantify and model the sediment routing system from the sediment production (source) to the sediment deposition (sink); its tectonic and climatic controls; and to establish generic rules for a full understanding of signals propagation in S2S systems for building predictive models of sediment location and characteristics. These studies of S2S systems require interdisciplinary approaches combining geomorphology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, geochemistry, tectonic and paleoclimatology coupling observations, quantifications and process modelling. All these skills are integrated in the S2S-FUTURE project.
The objectives of S2S-FUTURE have been designed with primary societal implications in the domains of water, carbon-derived energy, sustainable geological energy and geological storage of non-geological energy, waste geological storage, mineral resources, and building materials. These points have become crucial for sustainable investment and development according to several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such as SDG#6 (Clean water and sanitation), SDG#7 (Affordable and clean energy) and SDG#13 (Climate action) among others.

Research objectives of this PhD project:
Following the Mid-Pleistocene Climate Revolution (around 900.000 years ago), intensification of glacial-interglacial climate variability had major impacts on sediment fluxes and grain sizes transported by Northwest European fluvial systems. In general, increased sediment fluxes and severe grain size coarsening are reported. However, insights on the effects of these climatic changes at catchment scale are still limited. This project will assess sediment grain size, provenance, erosional/deposition changes, and sediment volumetric changes in the Meuse River catchment since the Middle Pleistocene. Apart from climate change, the study area is affected by tectonic uplift of the catchment (source) and subsidence in the adjoining rift system (sink). This research will improve general insights in fluvial system behavior and associated source to sink responses as a response to climate change and tectonics.

In this project we will first map and characterize sediment grain size distributions, provenance change and terrace incision versus aggradation from the upstream regions in France and Belgium to the downstream regions in the Netherlands. Second, the mapped data will be set in a temporal framework using available age control, and new cosmogenic, luminescence and paleomagnetic datings, allowing for assessing temporal and spatial variations in these parameters during the last Middle Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycles. Third, volumetric sediment changes in the Meuse catchment will be analyzed for each cycle, allowing to establish upstream-to downstream sediment budget variation through time. This allows a quantitative assessment of the source-to-sink routing system in relation to change in climate cyclicity and tectonic motions.

Requirements

  • the candidate should be in the first four years of their research career. They should not have a doctoral degree and fulfil the eligibility criteria and mobility rule (see below)
  • the candidate should hold or be about to obtain a Master’s degree in Earth Science or relevant field
  • excellent technical skills including field experience in morphology, sedimentology, GIS, matlab/Python/R analysis
  • previous experience working with morphological data, coring, fieldwork
  • the ability to work both as part of a team, and independently, coupled with excellent communication, organizational and problem-solving skills
  • availability to travel for training events and research secondments
  • recruiting is in accordance with the European rules for Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. Early-stage researchers (ESR) can be of any nationality. They must be, at the time of recruitment by the host organization, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. The research career starts after the degree that enables a student to proceed with a PhD (usually, the Master degree). Recruiting is in accordance with the European rules for Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. Early-stage researchers (ESR) can be of any nationality. They must be, at the time of recruitment by the host organization, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. The research career starts after the degree that enables a student to proceed with a PhD (usually, the Master degree).
  • at the time of the recruitment by the first host institution, the ESRs must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their first host institution for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account.

     

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2709 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (PhD) per month during the third year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1.0 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for another 2 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • contribution to commuting expenses,
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity
Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.
 

Application

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 1 March 2020. The job interviews are planned for the second half of March 2020, when possible please take them into account when applying for the position.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:
Name: Ronald van Balen
Position: professor
E-mail: r.t.van.balen@vu.nl


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