PhD Position in Micromagnetic Tomography for Rock-Magnetism
Utrecht University Department of Earth Sciences

PhD position on 'Micromagnetic Tomography for Rock-Magnetism' (1.0 FTE)

Job description

The Department of Earth Sciences currently seeks a highly motivated, high-potential applicant for a PhD position to work within the research project 'Micromagnetic Tomography for rock-magnetism' as part of an ERC Starting Grant that was awarded to Dr Lennart de Groot at the paleomagnetic laboratory Fort Hoofddijk.

Magnetisations stored in volcanic rocks are a vital source of information on the past behaviour of the Earth’s magnetic field. Small iron-oxide grains in these lavas acquire a magnetisation that is proportional to the Earth’s magnetic field at the time of cooling, but not all these grains are able to properly retain their magnetisation over geologic time. Traditionally, paleomagnetic measurements are done on bulk samples; all iron-oxide grains in a sample are measured simultaneously. The ill-behaved grains lead to low success rates in experiments that reconstruct the past strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, success rates as low as 10% are common. Recently, our research group developed a new technique, Micromagnetic Tomography, that makes it possible to determine the magnetisations of individual iron-oxide grains in volcanic samples. The aim of this PhD project is to use Micro-Magnetic Tomography to determine which iron-oxide grains are reliable paleomagnetic recorders, and which grains should be avoided. This makes it possible to interpret only the signals of grains that are stable paleomagnetic recorders and unlock paleomagnetic information in lavas that currently is inaccessible.

The candidate will characterise the rock-magnetic behaviour of common iron-oxides in lavas and assess the stability of their magnetisations using micromagnetic modelling. During the project the candidate will be trained to use the Quantum Diamond Microscope currently being installed at Fort Hoofddijk. Furthermore, the candidate will work with the Micromagnetic Tomography inversion programmes being written in Python, and micromagnetic software, e.g. MERRILL.

The research team is highly interdisciplinary and includes project leader Dr Lennart de Groot (supervisor), and Prof Dr Karl Fabian (advisor, NTNU Trondheim). The team furthermore consists of two postdocs and three PhD candidates. Besides the PhD position advertised here, one PhD candidate will work on the computational challenges of Micromagnetic Tomography, and another on developing its empirical methodology further. Technical support is provided by a technician in the paleomagnetic lab. The research will be performed at Utrecht University.

Up to 10% of the candidate's time will be dedicated to assisting in the BSc and MSc teaching programmes of the Department of Earth Sciences. A personalised training programme will be set up, mutually agreed on recruitment, which will reflect the candidate's training needs and career objectives.


The successful candidate should be ambitious and have an MSc (or equivalent) in Earth Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, or Chemistry. A strong background in mathematics is essential. Experience with one or more of the following topics would be an advantage: analytical (laboratory) skills, rock-magnetism, scanning magnetometry, inverse theory, solid-state physics, micro-scale modelling of natural systems, and/or programming. A broad interest in geosciences, and the willingness and capacity to interact in a multidisciplinary team, are essential. The candidate should be fluent in both spoken and written English, since the host group is international in composition.


You will be offered a full-time PhD position, initially for one year with extension to four years in total upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary starts with €2,325 per month in the first year and increases to €2,972 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme. More information on working at Utrecht University can be found here

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The department hosts a highly international group of more than one hundred PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses, or has access to, a wide variety of world-class laboratories.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact: Dr Lennart de Groot (project leader), via


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the ‘apply’ button below.

Applications are accepted until the position is filled, but we prefer to receive your application before July 15th, 2020. Evaluations and interviews are planned in July and August. The expected starting date can be as early as September 1st, 2020, but no later than February 1st, 2021.

The application deadline is

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