2 PhD positions in rock-fluid interactions and permeability development in Earth systems

We are offering two (2) fully-funded, 4-year PhD positions in the Rock Physics and Geofluids Laboratory (RPGL) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.

The successful candidates will work on the SNF-funded project « Redistribution of Silica and Deposition under a volcanic Edifice », whose goal is to understand how silica alteration changes the physical structure of fluid flow pathways in the Earth’s crust. Silica alteration is ubiquitous in Earth systems and results in changes to rock structure that may have profound ramifications on processes that depend on efficient fluid flow, including volcanic outgassing and geothermal energy exploitation.

Using a mix of detailed petrophysical, microstructural and geochemical characterization, and fluid-rock interaction experiments, the successful candidates will quantify 1) the physical and chemical conditions promoting silica alteration, 2) how fluid-flow pathways in rocks change over time as a result of silica alteration, 3) how these changes modify permeable flow, and 4) on what timescales these processes are active.

PhD Project 1 focuses on the role of silica redistribution during reactive flow on the permeability of analogue glass samples, to better constraint and model permeability evolution over time in simple geometric systems.

PhD Project 2 will focus on the role of geochemistry on silica polymorph formation during reactive flow, to better predict the form silica alteration takes under crustal conditions.

We are looking for two motivated Masters graduates with a strong interest in rock-fluid interactions and their influence on fluid flow in the Earth’s crust. The successful candidates will have the unique opportunity to contribute to the development of EPFL’s new Rock Physics and Geofluids Laboratory (RPGL) at EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil and Envrionmental Engineering (ENAC). Students will also work in close collaboration with ENAC’s Laboratory for Experimental Rock Mechanics (LEMR).

Main duties and responsibilities include :

  • Carrying out research activities related to fluid-rock interactions under crustal conditions ;
  • Experiment design and execution ;
  • Analysing and interpreting experimental results ;
  • Developing experimentally verified geometrical and chemical models for permeability evolution during fluid-driven alteration ;
  • Writing scientific articles for publication in peer-reveiwed journals ;
  • Participating in laboratory teaching acitivities, as needed (assisiting with exercises, correcting exams, supervision undergraduate and Master research students) ;
  • Presenting at international conferences.

We are looking for candidates with :

  • An MSc degree in the fields of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, chemistry, or physics ;
  • An interest in high-pressure and high-temperature experimental techniques, with application to renewable georesource development and volcanic hazard assessment ;
  • Good communication skills and willingness to work as part of a team ;
  • Enthusiasm, scientific curiosity, willingness to learn, good organisational skills, rigor in experimental work, versatility ;
  • Experience in rock-fluid interaction, geochemistry, petrology, modelling is an asset ;
  • Fluency in English, facility in French is an asset.

EPFL is an international and world-class engineering university. We offer :

  • An opportunity to develop a scientific career in experimental rock-fluid interactions and petrophysics, which can be ported to careers in both academia and industry ;
  • A world-class research and training environment with access to state-of-the-art research facilities ;
  • Competitive remuneration ;
  • A multi-cultural and stimulating work environment ;
  • Affiliation with the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC).

Starting date : Starting September 2022, exact start date is negotiable.

Deadline for application : Applications will be evaluated starting March 31.

Term of employment : 1-year fixed-term contract (CDD), renewable for 4 years.

To be considered, your application should be submitted as one single pdf file and include :

  • A letter of motivation
  • A detailed CV, including the contact details for 2 referees

To submit your application and for any additional information, please contact : Dr. Alexandra Kushnir ([email protected])