PhD position in Statistical Seismology at Swiss Seismological Service

Updated: 25 minutes ago
Job Type: Permanent

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100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at the Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zurich, invites applications for a PhD student position to advance methods for seismicity analysis and time-dependent earthquake forecasting. The SED is the federal agency responsible for monitoring earthquakes in Switzerland and for assessing Switzerland’s seismic hazard and risk.

Project background

The earthquake size distribution of earthquakes (the b-value) is a key observable in statistical seismology and spatial and temporal variations in b-values can be related to first order seismotectonic processes in the Earth crust. In recent publications we have shown that temporal changes in b-values throughout the seismic cycle can be used for improving aftershock and foreshock hazard assessment. The so-called Foreshock Traffic Light System (FTLS) proposed by us exploits changes in b-values observed for the real-time discrimination of foreshocks and aftershocks. In the context of the EC funded project RISE ( ), ETH Zurich and the University of Bologna (Dr. Laura Gulia) are implementing formal tests of the FTLS hypothesis, but also apply and extend it to other regions. Of particular interest are also exploiting the opportunities presented by recent enhances in observational and analysis capabilities thanks to network densification and novel data assimilation techniques.

Job description

You will focus on developing and testing innovative analysis techniques in statistical seismology, trying to advance the state of the art in the understanding and use of b-values for earthquake forecasting. Using existing high-quality earthquake catalogs from around the world at different scales (from laboratory measurements to underground labs and regional networks) you will investigate how stressing conditions, frictional properties etc. control seismicity and test forecasting hypotheses such as FTLS. You will support a real-time test of the FTLS, improved methods to estimate the completeness of seismicity but also try to advance the hypothesis by including the observed spatial variability of b-values that highlight highly stressed asperities. The project is quite flexible and depending on emerging opportunities, you may focus not only on statistical analysis but also on computational methods for simulating earthquake catalogs or machine-learning approaches to enhance earthquake analysis and forecasting workflows.

Your profile

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with a strong interest in statistical seismology, seismotectonics and earthquake physics. A master degree in:

  • Earth Sciences
  • Physics
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Engineering or a related discipline is required

At least basic abilities of data processing software such as Matlab or Python are required. Candidates with advanced abilities will be preferred. We require abilities in coherent scientific teamwork, excellent communication skills (spoken and written English) and the capability of a good work organization. Candidates with prior background in statistical seismology, data assimilation or related area will be preferred.

We offer

You will be part of a small solution-oriented team in statistical seismology and contribute to advancing the state of the art in research on earthquake physics and earthquake predictability. We offer 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 independent research
  • publish papers in high-level peer reviewed journals
  • develop hypotheses-driven experimental campaigns
  • participate in international conferences and perform basic teaching assistant duties

The position is available immediately; 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 .

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.

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