PhD on probabilistic subsidence predictions for building damage (1.0 FTE)

Uren per week: 
36 tot 40
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Geowetenschappen
GEO / Dept AW
Uiterlijk reageren op: 


The Department of Earth Sciences is now looking for a highly-motivated, high-potential applicant to fill a PhD position on human-induced subsidence and building damage. The PhD research will be conducted in collaboration with Padova University and research institute TNO.

Subsidence-induced damage to the built environment is a worldwide issue, especially in low-lying urbanized coastal zones worldwide such as Venice (Italy) and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands alone, estimated costs of subsidence on buildings and infrastructure are in the order of tens of billions in the coming decades. The built environment can be damaged by subsidence induced by subsurface activities ranging from groundwater level management to deep resource extraction. TNO has set-up an Early Research Programme (ERP) “Subsidence and Building Damage”, of which this PhD will be part of. In this programme, the know-how necessary to develop a model chain for predicting subsidence-induced damage to the built environment will be developed. The key scientific breakthrough is to establish causal relationships between different sources of subsidence and resulting damage to the built environment. To reach this objective, models (physics-based and machine learning-based) and observations (satellite remote sensing and in-situ measurements) will be combined throughout data assimilation schemes.

The research team includes Prof Jan-Diederik van Wees (TNO, UU), Prof Pietro Teatini (University of Padova), Dr Ylona van Dinther (UU), Dr Thibault Candela (TNO), and Dr Claudia Zoccarato (University of Padova). The research will mainly be performed at Utrecht University and TNO, but extended stays at University of Padova are included in the project planning.

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 have a Master's degree (or equivalent) in Earth Sciences, Physics, or Engineering with demonstrable affinity with geophysical or sub-surface processes. Experience with one or more of the following topics would be an advantage: analytical (theoretical) skills, (modelling of) subsidence, remote sensing. A broad interest in subsidence, and the willingness and capacity to interact with the team members, are essential. The candidate should be proficient in English and have excellent scientific writing and presenting skills. The candidate is an independent thinker, enthusiastic team player and has good communication skills.


You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years 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 ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

Over de organisatie

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 strategic 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 and is located at Utrecht Science Park in the Vening Meinesz Building A nearby the historical city centre of Utrecht.

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 tenured staff of over 45 scientists and more than 110 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Our research programme spans four intertwined themes: Climate & Life, Earth interior, Earth materials, and Environmental Earth Sciences. We have access to or house a wide variety of world-class laboratories and infrastructures, which includes the Dutch National Super Computer hosted by SURFsara to be used in this project.

Aanvullende informatie

For more information about this position, please contact Jan Diederik van Wees (Professor (UU, TNO) via or Thibault Candela (TNO) via

Are you an international applicant? Then have a look at what our International Service Desk can do for you. Read the information for international staff and guests about living in the Netherlands.


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.

Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter, such that the position can start as soon as possible.

Uiterlijk reageren op 20 februari 2023.