PhD Geophysical Subsurface Railway Embankment and Soil Monitoring

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 28 Aug 2022

Embankment stability is crucial for safe railway operation. Geophysical methods can be used to detect and characterize subsurface structures and materials and monitor changes over time. A ground-penetrating radar system mounted under a train can be used to delineate soil layering and moisture content in 3D. A buried fibre-optic cable can be connected to an interrogator and used as a distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) instrument to measure surface wave vibrations. Surface Wave Tomography (SWT) can be applied to the data to deliver soil strength parameters. Both methods allow for a continuous and frequent visualization of track embankment profiles without disrupting regular railway operation. Joint seismic-GPR analysis and interpretation has the potential to aid in embankment stability assessment. This is the state of the art, and the project is open for new and emerging technologies to be included. Your research will be conducted on the reference project site(s) and V-track, after which it will be calibrated/validated on CTO.

This project aims at developing an effective monitoring approach, quantifying and visualizing geophysical soil properties, mapping geophysical soil properties to geotechnical parameters, and identifying problematic places along railway tracks. This involves 3D modelling of seismic surface waves and GPR data, developing seismic-interferometry processing to obtain dispersion curves for SWT, joint GPR-SWT inversion to estimate subsurface parameters, and collaboration with other PhD projects to develop a geophysical-to-geotechnical parameter conversion model.

For this aim, the project will build upon and develop new GPR and DAS monitoring techniques, methods to estimate layer thickness, P-wave and S-wave velocities, water content, and possibly density, from the collected data. To compute geotechnical parameters from the geophysical parameters, the project will develop an operational method calibrated by CPT-data. The newly developed advanced processing methods should enable identifying problematic places. A field trial or demonstration of the geophysical monitoring technique forms an important part of the project. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with almost all other PhD projects and with all partners in RESET.

We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Applied Geophysics or a related field. The candidate should have a strong background and genuine interest in working with mathematical tools for wave methods and data processing/inversion. While a background in fieldwork is preferred but not required, an interest in fieldwork is necessary. The candidate should have excellent programming skills in python/Matlab/C, proficiency in verbal and written English, and experience with team-work.

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 € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 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 sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

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 depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals 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.

Within the research program RESET, ProRail, Deltares, and TU Delft will work together to investigate the behaviour of moving trains on rail embankments with special attention to increasing train frequency and trainloads, and effects of climate change. TU Delft will recruit 8 PhD students and 2 postdocs to work in this research program. One PhD position is available to develop and perform geophysical monitoring techniques using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic methods.

For additonal information (other than application procedure), please contact Evert Slob, e-mail: E.C.Slob@tudelft.nl .  

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 28 August 2022 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • 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.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

Embankment stability is crucial for safe railway operation. Geophysical methods can be used to detect and characterize subsurface structures and materials and monitor changes over time. A ground-penetrating radar system mounted under a train can be used to delineate soil layering and moisture content in 3D. A buried fibre-optic cable can be connected to an interrogator and used as a distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) instrument to measure surface wave vibrations. Surface Wave Tomography (SWT) can be applied to the data to deliver soil strength parameters. Both methods allow for a continuous and frequent visualization of track embankment profiles without disrupting regular railway operation. Joint seismic-GPR analysis and interpretation has the potential to aid in embankment stability assessment. This is the state of the art, and the project is open for new and emerging technologies to be included. Your research will be conducted on the reference project site(s) and V-track, after which it will be calibrated/validated on CTO.

This project aims at developing an effective monitoring approach, quantifying and visualizing geophysical soil properties, mapping geophysical soil properties to geotechnical parameters, and identifying problematic places along railway tracks. This involves 3D modelling of seismic surface waves and GPR data, developing seismic-interferometry processing to obtain dispersion curves for SWT, joint GPR-SWT inversion to estimate subsurface parameters, and collaboration with other PhD projects to develop a geophysical-to-geotechnical parameter conversion model.

For this aim, the project will build upon and develop new GPR and DAS monitoring techniques, methods to estimate layer thickness, P-wave and S-wave velocities, water content, and possibly density, from the collected data. To compute geotechnical parameters from the geophysical parameters, the project will develop an operational method calibrated by CPT-data. The newly developed advanced processing methods should enable identifying problematic places. A field trial or demonstration of the geophysical monitoring technique forms an important part of the project. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with almost all other PhD projects and with all partners in RESET.

We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Applied Geophysics or a related field. The candidate should have a strong background and genuine interest in working with mathematical tools for wave methods and data processing/inversion. While a background in fieldwork is preferred but not required, an interest in fieldwork is necessary. The candidate should have excellent programming skills in python/Matlab/C, proficiency in verbal and written English, and experience with team-work.

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 € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 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 sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

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 depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals 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.

Within the research program RESET, ProRail, Deltares, and TU Delft will work together to investigate the behaviour of moving trains on rail embankments with special attention to increasing train frequency and trainloads, and effects of climate change. TU Delft will recruit 8 PhD students and 2 postdocs to work in this research program. One PhD position is available to develop and perform geophysical monitoring techniques using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic methods.

For additonal information (other than application procedure), please contact Evert Slob, e-mail: E.C.Slob@tudelft.nl .  

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 28 August 2022 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • 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.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

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