PhD Position Tectonic Geomorphology: Evolution of Northern Africa for the Next 1000 Years

Updated: 26 days ago
Deadline: 31 May 2024

Challenge: Forecast northern Africa landscapes into the next 1000 years.
Change: How do we forecast geological landscapes of the future?
Impact: Decisions of local stakeholders and policymakers about natural resources.

This PhD project, hosted by the Geoscience and Engineering Department of the TUDelft, is a unique opportunity to shape our understanding of geological evolution and the impact it will have on future landscapes and water resources in northern Africa (in this project: above the equator). Positioned at the intersection of tectonic geomorphology and hydrogeology, this project is not just about forecasting; it's about forming practical findings for mitigating the challenges of demographic growth and climate change. Through a multidisciplinary approach that makes use of landscape evolution modelling (BADLANDS), you will lay the groundwork for pivotal policy-making and sustainable resource management strategies that may have impact in the centuries to come. This project links to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #6 ‘clean water and sanitation’ as well as forecasting impacts on one of the Planetary Boundaries, namely ‘land-system change’.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Develop a multi-scale GIS-based timeline(s) for northern Africa, encompassing geological surface and subsurface processes, components (rocks – water – and other natural resources), and spatio/temporal scales, in alignment with research objectives.
  • Utilize available datasets to initiate and support the project.
  • Conduct extensive landscape evolution modelling (based on the code BADLANDS), with a focus on understanding implications of landscape evolution on fresh surface water (and possibly groundwater) quality and availability.
  • Investigate the impact of factors such as, but not limited to, the increase of wildfire in landscapes at large temporal scales, the important demand for mining the critical minerals present in the region, and/or the ethical aspects around the water resources and their usage.
  • Apply tools developed in remote sensing to answer some of the key research questions of this project, such as inferring sediment yield potential of exposed rocks.
  • Having affinities with activities of impacted communities, stakeholders, policy makers, and other academic departments to enhance the relevance and impact of the research.
  • Stay updated on the latest developments in the field of geoscience, hydrogeology, and landscape evolution modelling.

Why This Role Matters:

The research undertaken will address critical questions concerning the future landscapes of northern Africa and the sustainability of water resources, vital for both environmental conservation and the well-being of local populations. The work will not only inform our understanding of geological landscape evolution but also provide insights into the influence on forecasted demographic growth and climate change, offering potential solutions to mitigate future challenges (~4D stress maps/climate resilience mapping)

If you are passionate about geoscience, hydrogeology, predictive modelling, and about applying your knowledge to give answer to societal problems, this role offers the chance to make a significant impact on our shared future.

Work environment:

We believe innovative science requires continuous development, a healthy work-life balance, and a collaborative team spirit. You will enroll in the TUDelft Graduate School programme to develop research, discipline-related, and transferable skills. In addition, we encourage all employees to take time off for family, friends, sports, holidays, and/or relaxation to support their wellbeing.

You will be supervised by researchers of the Applied Geology Section. Our group is active, with weekly informal talks, strong support, and other social activities. Finally, you will be welcome in a very collegial group of PhD candidates who organize regular social activities.

Need to have:

An M.Sc. in a relevant field, such as Geology, Hydrogeology, Geomorphology, Environmental Geology, Physical Geography, or Geo-modelling. We also encourage you to apply if you come from another quantitative background as geological training may be provided.

Good to have:

  • Proficiency in programming
  • Basic GIS skillset
  • Previous experience in Landscape Evolution Modelling
  • Affinity with the studied region

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme  for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values  and we actively engage  to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here  to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Fieldworks and conferences to the studied region may be involved in the project, but only after agreement between the candidate and the supervisory team.

For information about the position and/or the application procedure, please contact, e-mail: [email protected] .  

We are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive research environment. We encourage applications from individuals of all backgrounds.

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply no later than May 31st 2024 via the application button and upload your extended CV (only one pdf file, in English; free form but Europass CV encouraged) containing at least:

  • a short motivation text of maximum one page with all that you think will convince us that you are the best candidate,
  • a list of relevant courses you have taken,
  • your Master’s Thesis summary, and
  • a reference and contact detail.

Please note:

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.


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