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PhD in Controls on Miocene sediment dispersal in the Roer Valley Graben in the southern Netherlands

As part of a joint project, the Department of Earth Sciences  at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and TNO - Geological Survey of the Netherlands seek a highly motivated, high-potential applicant for a PhD position to work within a research project funded by the Geological Survey, entitled “Controls on Miocene sediment dispersal in the Roer Valley Graben in the Southern Netherlands.

3 maanden geleden


De Boelelaan, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


The Miocene of the Roer Valley Rift System and the surrounding areas consists of a laterally and vertically variable sequence of shallow marine, coastal and fluvial deposits. The sediment distribution within this coastal system was controlled by tectonic, climatic and (glacio)eustatic processes. As a result, the sedimentary deposits consist of a large number of sequences with bounding unconformities difficult to recognise on simple lithological grounds. Only a detailed reconstruction of the stratigraphic development and a better understanding of mineralogical and physical sediment properties will enable a correct correlation of both water-bearing, sandy units (aquifers), and sealing clay layers (aquitards) in an area that is compartmentalised by neotectonic faulting. This knowledge is relevant for applications in both hydrogeology and geothermal engineering (energy production, thermal energy storage).
The research will consist of the following elements:

  1. Development of a tectono- and seismostratigraphic subdivision of the Miocene sequence, to enhance the understanding of spatial- and temporal accommodation changes on aquifer distribution
  2. A source-to-sink assessment based on dating, provenance, and transport mechanisms, using sedimentary facies, grain size-shape analyses, and Sr-isotopes. This will provide insights into the distribution of hydrological and thermal properties and geothermal potential
  3. Link accommodation effects with tectonic development of the Roer Valley Rift system and establish a multi-source infill model for the basin, taking into account the source-to-sink aspects
  4. Synthesis
The work will be carried out partly (50%) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and partly (50%) at TNO-Geological Survey of the Netherlands (Utrecht). Both institutes will jointly supervise the research project.
The advisory team is highly interdisciplinary and includes project leaders Prof. Dr. Ronald van Balen (promotor, VUA) and Dr. Johan ten Veen (co-promotor, TNO). The research will be performed at the Department of Earth Sciences (VUA) and the Geological Survey of the Netherlands (TNO).

Your duties
  • write a PhD thesis consisting of peer-reviewed scientific papers
  • work with colleagues of the project consortium and contributing to project reporting
  • contribute to the bachelor and/or master Earth Sciences teaching programmes of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • follow a personalized training programme to strengthen skills and fill knowledge gaps. It will supplement and support the project-related research and help achieve long-term career objectives


  • MSc degree in Earth Sciences
  • a strong motivation to do independent PhD research
  • knowledge of sedimentology, tectonics, seismic interpretation and sequence stratigraphy
  • good working knowledge of interpretation software (e.g. Petrel and preferably GIS) and keen interest in 3D mapping
  • experience with and willingness to perform analyses in various lab environments
  • strong quantitative methodological skills
  • proficiency in Dutch – needed to understand and work with the Survey’s subsurface database - and English
  • demonstrable scientific writing, project planning and oral communication potential
  • an enthusiastic mindset as a team player


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until January 31, 2021.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: R.T. van Balen
Position: professor
E-mail: r.t.van.balen@vu.nl
Telephone: 0205987324

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