Postdoctoral position on Semi-analytic coupled modelling of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (1.0 FTE)

Research / Academic


The Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University seeks a postdoctoral researcher to work for at least 12 months in DESTRESS, a major EU H2020 programme on Enhanced Geothermal Systems. The goal of DESTRESS is to demonstrate the feasibility of so-called “soft stimulation” – geothermal productivity enhancement while minimizing induced seismicity. The field demonstration experiments in the programme require underpinning by modelling. The postdoc will work on fast, semi-analytical tools, intended to capture the main physics determining fault friction and seismogenic slip but simplified to the extent that calculations are fast. This will facilitate sensitivity analyses aimed at mapping the range of outcomes due to uncertainties or operational choices, providing the possibility to employ ensemble-based data assimilation to constrain those uncertainties. We envisage starting with existing modelling tools that address poro-elasto-plastic reservoir behaviour and fault failure, by evaluating the stress path due to injection. The technology then needs to be extended to include thermal effects, stimulation, and induced seismicity. The tool will be tested on a soft stimulation treatment performed in Pohang (South Korea). The appointee will work in the rock and fault mechanics team led by Prof. Chris Spiers and cooperate closely with colleagues at Utrecht University and TNO, in particular the project leader Dr. Peter Fokker and Prof. Jan-Diederik van Wees.


Applicants should have a PhD in theoretical and/or numerical mechanics, ideally rock/fault or materials mechanics, and should have experience in mathematical modelling and programming. Candidates with a relevant background in other disciplines will also be considered. A broad interest in geothermal energy and in the mechanism causing earthquake motion on faults is essential, as is the willingness and capacity to interact in a multidisciplinary team.

Salary Benefits:

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position for 12 months with a possibility of extension if funding allows. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience  - ranges between €3,044 and €3,545 (scale 10-3 to 10-7 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment (increasing to € 3,123 and €3,637 respectively per 1 Feb. 2019). Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % of annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % of annual salary per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model).

Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht. More information is available at: working at Utrecht University.

Work Hours:

38 - 40 hours per week


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