PhD position in Computational Earthquake Physics

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 27 May 2022

PhD position in Computational Earthquake Physics


The Seismology and Geodynamics group in the Institute of Geophysics, Department of Earth Sciences seeks a PhD student to join our vigorous research program in the Computational Earthquake Physics .

The position is available immediately and will stay open until the role is filled. The working language is English. The salary and general working conditions are internationally highly competitive and according to ETH standards. Starting date is late 2022.


Project background

The PhD project is in the emerging domain of numerical modelling and earthquake physics. A major goal in earthquake physics is to develop a constitutive modelling framework that captures the dependence of fault behaviour on rock rheology, temperature, and fluids. In this PhD project, we tie together progress in computational methods, deformation experiments, and field observations, to develop the next generation of modelling tools to capture the complex multi-physics and multi-scale response of active tectonic faults across spatiotemporal scales.

The overarching modelling challenges of this project are relevant to geosciences as a whole, as they include capturing the effects of smaller-scale processes on larger-scale phenomena using multiple types of observables to constrain multi-scale and multi-physics modelling. Such integrative modelling can improve our physical understanding of how tectonic faults operate in space and time and thus advance our understanding of earthquake source processes. 

The PhD project will be supervised by Dr Luca Dal Zilio and Prof. Domenico Giardini (Seismology and Geodynamics group) in collaboration with Prof. Whitney Behr (Structural Geology and Tectonics group) and Prof. Taras Gerya (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics group).


Job description

You will develop and apply advanced physics-based modelling tools to investigate the interplay between seismic and aseismic slips on active tectonic faults. The objectives of this research project include:

  • the thermo-mechanical parameters characterizing the seismic behaviour and
  • the impact of shear heating, grain size evolution, and energy feedback on the propagation of large earthquakes and slow-slip phenomena.
  • This project aims to provide a range of valuable insights into the physical processes governing earthquakes and slow-slip phenomena, with a strong emphasis on innovation and on the portability of results to different geological contexts. This PhD project aims to untangle the limited direct, long-term observations of seismicity by contributing to the unravelling of the physical mechanisms governing its spatiotemporal variability. In their essence, using the distinct advantages of physics-based models will allow ultimately cover weak spots in current hazard assessment approaches.


    We offer

    This project is embedded in an exciting research environment, with a large, diverse and interdisciplinary research team. ETH Zurich offers one of the best earth science and geophysics programs worldwide and has generally excellent resources in terms of mentoring and infrastructure. The city of Zurich is widely known for its high standard of living, close proximity to the Swiss Alps and central location within western Europe. 


    Your profile

    We are seeking an enthusiastic and motivated young scientist with a knack for quantitative problem solving, coding, and for working with multidisciplinary data sets. The position requires a Master's degree in Earth Sciences, Physics, Applied Mathematics, Engineering or a related discipline. You should have an interest in developing and applying physics-based modelling tools and coding skills in common scientific languages such as Matlab, Python, C, C++, and Julia. You will be expected to develop and implement an independent research agenda, publish papers in high-level peer-reviewed journals, participate in international conferences, and perform basic teaching assistant duties.

    The position requires excellent teamwork abilities and communication skills (spoken and written English).


    About ETH Zürich

    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.


    Curious? So are we.

    We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents by June 15th 2022:

    • Motivation letter (max. 2 pages)
    • Full CV
    • Diploma transcripts (BSc/MSc) from which the grades are evident
    • 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.

    Further information about Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich can be found on our website . Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr Luca Dal Zilio by E-Mail, luca.dalzilio@erdw.ethz.ch  (no applications).


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