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PhD researcher, Analysis of offshore sedimentary record - Ghent, Belgium

PhD researcher, Analysis of offshore sedimentary record - Ghent, Belgium

Gent, Belgium
4-year PhD researcher position to analyze the offshore sedimentary record to reconstruct a relative sea level (RSL) curve for the Holocene, which is poorly constrained so far for the Shetland Islands, in order to more accurately assess run-up heights of the palaeo-tsunamis.

The PhD researcher will use a combination of coastal geological research techniques, such as coring and microfossil analysis, geochemical analysis, fabric analysis, geochronology and multivariate statistics in combination with onshore mapping, multibeam bathymetric mapping, sub-bottom and high-resolution reflection seismic profiling. The aim is to develop a new RSL curve for the region by collecting new sea-level data from the Shetland Islands and by coupling onshore and offshore sea-level index points into a record to improve regional GIA models.

The PhD student will be based at the Geological Survey of Belgium and enrolled at the Department of Geology at Ghent University. The PhD supervisors will be Prof. Vanessa Heyvaert at Ghent University/Geological Survey of Belgium (UGent/GSB), Prof. Sue Dawson (University of Dundee, UK) and Dr. Max Engel (University of Heidelberg, Germany). It is expected that the PhD student will spend considerable time at the co-supervisors’ institutions to receive specialist training in specific methods and techniques (e.g. diatom analysis) and to apply these methods and techniques to the project data.

Tentative start date: 1 September 2022. The position is initially for one year, but it will be extended to a maximum of four years after positive evaluation. The PhD student will be employed by the GSB, but enrolled for his PhD study at Ghent University. More information about PhD studies at Ghent University can be found here:
The PhD researcher will work in tandem with a second PhD researcher, who will be hired by Ghent University. This second PhD project will largely use the same data, but with a focus on the sedimentological study of offshore tsunami deposits (see vacancy on:, under Department of Geology).

Both positions are funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) under the collaborative research Grant “Storegga and beyond – North Sea tsunami deposits offshore Shetland Islands (NORSEAT)”. This project has been awarded in the framework of a special programme to stimulate innovative scientific research using Belgium’s new RV Belgica II. We urge applicants to consider applying for both positions.
- Conduct an extensive and comprehensive literature review and review of existing sea-level data;
- Plan and perform surveys at sea;
- Plan and perform the collection of sea-level index points through on- and offshore coring.
- Develop a RSL curve by means of a range of different indicators, including microfossil-based transfer functions;
- Collaborate with international researcher partners;
- Write high quality research manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals;
- Participate in and represent the Geologica Survey of Belgium at project meetings, follow up and deliver milestones and deliverables as indicated in the grant proposal;
- Discuss planning and report progress to principal investigators;
- Present research at national and international conferences.
- MSc in Geology, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, or an equivalent degree in related fields pertinent to the research project. MSc degree is required at the start of the appointment. For diplomas awarded outside the European Union, a certificate of equivalence (NARIC) must be submitted.
- A keen interest in sedimentology, micropalaeontology and RSL reconstructions, as well as geological field and lab work in general. Prior experience (e.g. via master thesis) in one or more of these topics is desirable.
- Willingness to participate in multi-day marine surveys, onboard RV Belgica II.

- Good organizational and interpersonal skills; a team player.
- Excellent communication skills in English – both orally and written.
- Highly motivated to conduct scientific research.
- Critical and creative.
- Scientific integrity.
- Open minded and taking initiative.
- Passionate scientist, willing to learn new skills and develop excellent research.
- Willing to work in an international context.
Application to be submitted electronically in a single PDF file, by e-mail, to Prof. Vanessa Heyvaert ( Deadline : 10/06/2022

Application should Include CV, a motivation letter and an overview of study results (transcript of records).

All applications will be assessed after the deadline and shortlisted candidates will be contacted for a remote interview.
Application deadline
Further information
Prof. Vanessa Heyvaert (

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