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ETH Zurich

PhD position in Laboratory Seismology at Swiss Seismological Service

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PhD position in Laboratory Seismology at Swiss Seismological Service

The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich invites applications for a PhD student position to perform experimental and numerical research in the emerging field of laboratory seismology. The SED is linked to the Department of Earth Sciences and is the federal agency responsible for monitoring earthquakes in Switzerland and for assessing Switzerland’s seismic hazard and risk. The project aims at advancing and improving the understanding and forecasting of natural and induced earthquakes using novel laboratory experiments.

Project background

The current lack of understanding regarding natural and induced earthquakes severely limits the application of ever more precise empirical observations to enhance our earthquake forecasting abilities. It is unclear of how the interplay of thermo-hydro-mechanical processes that must precipitate smaller earthquakes that eventually lead to a catastrophic event. Studies have shown, in both laboratory earthquake studies and in nature, that there are changes in statistical properties of smaller earthquakes prior to the large one. It has been found that the system will transition to a critical state. This is known as critical point behavior, whereby, once achieved, the system’s time-to-failure can be predicted.

Critical point behavior has been studied in the laboratory rock deformation experiments but remains solely observed using statistical approaches. Traditionally, monitoring acoustic emissions are used to detect critical phenomena. This project will add new measurement tools in the form of distributed fiber optic strain sensing (DFS), which provide the richest vision of the slow progressive damage during the pre-failure phase in rock deformation tests to date. This project will aim to use this high-resolution measurement to determine how the system organizes into a critical state via second-order processes, for example a samples heterogeneous distribution of material properties resulting in complex and heterogeneous deformations in the sample. The goal will be to provide a physical basis to the statistical observed transition to criticality.

This position will start from a set of recent, exciting but in parts poorly constrained first-order observations of laboratory seismicity and design specific hypotheses-driven experiments at the laboratory scale to unravel the underlying principles to much greater extent than possible today.

Job description

You will focus on conducting innovative experiments using a triaxial machine (LabQuake) located in the Rock Physics and Mechanics Laboratory (https://rpml.ethz.ch/), coupled with a very high-sensitivity acoustic emission monitoring system composed of 32 channels and fiber optic strain sensors. LabQuake can be used for systematic experimental investigations of the effects of pore-fluid variation in fractured media by measuring poroelastic, mechanical, hydraulic and thermal properties, as well as acoustic emissions of intact and fractured rocks, considering various stress regimes and different fracture orientations representative of the upper crust conditions (up to 6 km depth). The main focus of the experiments will be on enhancing the understanding of the environmental conditions influencing the processes that lead to critical point behavior.

We offer

  • To be part of a small solution oriented team in laboratory seismology and contribute to advancing the state of the art in scientific and technological aspects.
  • World-class resources and opportunities to develop a scientific career in an ambitious and dynamic international team and flexible working conditions.
  • Candidates will be required to perform an independent research, publish papers in high-level peer reviewed journals, develop hypotheses-driven experimental campaigns, participate in international conferences, participate in weekly laboratory steering meetings and perform basic teaching assistant duties.

The position is available earliest September 2022; the exact starting date can be negotiated. The working language is English. The salary and general working conditions are internationally highly competitive and according to ETH standards.

Your profile

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with a strong interest in experimental geophysics and/or geomechanics: 

Required:

  • A Master degree in Earth Sciences / Physics / Applied Mathematics / Engineering or a related discipline.
  • At least basic abilities of data processing software such as Matlab or Python are required. Candidates with advanced abilities will be preferred.
  • The PhD student will be required to work in a laboratory team environment. We presuppose abilities in coherent scientific teamwork, excellent communication skills (spoken and written English) and the capability of a good work organization as far as precise way of working.

Preferred:

  • Completed a dissertation-style Master’s in an above-mentioned field of study.
  • Experience working in a scientific teamwork or roles in a scientific team is favorable to the application.
  • Candidates with prior background in numerical modelling in the field of geomechanics or geophysics will be favored.
  • Candidates with knowledge of experimental data acquisition techniques will be favored.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Interested?

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • Full CV
  • The names and contact details of 2 referees who may be consulted at an advanced stage in the selection process

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information about the Swiss Seismological Service, please visit our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr. Paul Selvadurai or Prof. Stefan Wiemer by E-Mail (no applications): paul.selvadurai@sed.ethz.ch / wiemer@sed.ethz.ch

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Jobdetails

Titel
PhD position in Laboratory Seismology at Swiss Seismological Service
Arbeitgeber
Standort
Rämistrasse 101 Zürich, Schweiz
Veröffentlicht
2021-12-02
Bewerbungsfrist
Unspecified
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