PhD position in Water Isotopes and Paleoclimatology

Updated: about 1 month ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 09 Jun 2022

A 4-year PhD position is available at the Quaternary Geology Group at the Department of Environmental Science, University of Basel ( ). Dedicated to paleoclimate and geochemical research, our research group is specialized in the analysis of speleothems (cave carbonates) archives and oversees state-of-the-art analytical facilities. The PhD position is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) to focus on the application of the water stable isotope paleo-thermometry on speleothem fluid inclusions in order to develop quantitative central European paleotemperature records for the Holocene and Pleistocene periods. The project will take place essentially in Switzerland and neighbouring countries.

The characterizations of variations in the hydrological cycle on a regional scale is an important task in paleoclimate research. Water isotopes in speleothem fluid inclusion are a powerful proxy for investigating the past water cycle as they are directly related to the isotopic composition of rainfall above the cave. In order to understand the climatic and environmental signals based on water isotopes we need to understand the driving factors of the water isotopes in modern precipitation. For this project, you will initiate a cave drip and precipitation water isotope survey at different cave sites in Switzerland in order to understand their variability, especially related to the source of moisture. You will set up and test a new fluid inclusion extraction line which will be used to apply the speleothem fluid inclusion water isotope paleo-thermometry to Holocene and Pleistocene stalagmites in order to provide quantitative temperature estimates. In addition, you will characterize speleothem fluid inclusions using digital image analyses. The project involves stable isotope analyses (hydrogen, oxygen and carbon) on precipitation, drip water and speleothems that will be performed in the stable isotope laboratory of the Quaternary Geology group. Furthermore, the candidate will have the opportunity to join fieldtrips to Swiss caves.

We are looking for a highly motivated and proactive student with a master's degree in geosciences, hydrology, climatology, environmental sciences or related disciplines. Candidates are expected to have background and interest in method development, (paleo-)climatology or geochemistry. Prior experience in stable water isotopes, laser spectroscopy/isotope ratio mass spectrometry techniques or speleothem-based research would be an advantage. Candidates should have strong interest in analytical work, data analyses and interpretation. They should be able to work both independently and within a team. Good communication and written English skills are essential in order to conduct the research and to work within our international team.

The PhD project (100%) is part of a research project financed for 4 years by the SNF and is envisioned to start July 1st, 2022. We offer an interesting position in an international and multidisciplinary work environment and superb infrastructure. The salary will be within the frame of the SNF guidelines ( ).

Application / Contact
Please submit your complete application documents, including (i) a letter of your research interests and motivation for the position, your experience and skills, (ii) a CV, (iii) contact details of two references (one of them should be the main advisor of your master's thesis), as well as (iv) transcripts and diplomas of your bachelor's and master's degrees (if available) via our online recruiting platform. We accept only online applications.
For further information please contact Dr. Stéphane Affolter ( ). Reviews of applications will begin mid May 2022 and will continue until the position is filled.

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