PhD position on probabilistic subsidence predictions for building damage



Organisation: Utrecht University

Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues. Everyone deserves to feel at home at the university. They welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

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 (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research).

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 at UU. A personalised training programme will be set up, mutually agreed on recruitment, which will reflect the candidate's training needs and career objectives.