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Renewable Energy News

PhD position – induced seismicity in geothermal reservoirs, GFZ Potsdam, Germany – ThinkGeoEnergy

By Staff , in Geothermal Power , at June 24, 2020

Geoforschungszentrum (GFZ) Potsdam, Germany (source: Andreas Schwarzkopf, commons.wikimedia)

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany has advertised an open PhD position – induced seismicity in geothermal reservoirs for its new Helmholtz Young Investigator Group.

For the recently established Helmholtz Young Investigator Group “Advanced reservoir engineering concepts for a controlled utilization of deep geothermal energy in urban areas (ARES)” in Section 4.8 “Geoenergy” we invite applications for a PhD position – induced seismicity in geothermal reservoirs, Reference Number 4320.

The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association we are part of the largest German scientific organization. With around 1,300 employees (including our guests) we develop a sound understanding of the systems and processes of the solid Earth as well as strategies and options for action to face global change and its regional impacts, to understand natural hazards

As a partner in Geo.X, the GFZ has access to an excellent network of other geoscience institutions in Potsdam and Berlin. This largest regional concentration of geoscientific competence in Europe offers first-class cooperation and development opportunities.

The research group develops concepts and workflows for enhancing the hydraulic performance of deep geothermal reservoirs while minimizing environmental impacts such as induced seismicity (“soft stimulation treatments”). Research methods include experiments at laboratory, mine, and field scale as well as numerical modelling studies. We pursue our research in tight interdisciplinary collaboration across scales and across disciplines together with national and international partners.

The PhD student (m/f/x) will improve numerical modelling codes and workflows and perform numerical proof-of-concept studies of hydraulic soft stimulation treatments. This involves quantification of the hydraulic, mechanical, and seismic response of specific geological settings to different fluid injection schemes and other operational constraints. Emphasis will be put on the differentiation between the effects of individual engineering parameters and geological boundary conditions and the upscaling of the results from laboratory scale to field scale. The results will improve the physical understanding of hydraulic stimulation treatments and associated fracture development, permeability increase and injection-induced seismicity. This will support the improvement of reservoir stimulation concepts to develop Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) in a safe and economic manner.

Your responsibilities:

  • improve an existing numerical code and develop a tailor-made modelling workflow to study hydraulic fracturing, shear stimulation, and the resulting induced seismicity and hydraulic performance increase in geothermal reservoirs at multiple scales
  • validate the developed code and workflow by history matching of selected fluid injection experiments at laboratory, mine and field scale
  • investigate the physical processes dominating the mechanical, seismic and hydraulic response of geothermal reservoirs to different hydraulic stimulation treatments and improve the physical understanding by upscaling
  • publish in international peer-reviewed journals and present results at scientific meetings
  • Co-supervise B.Sc. and M.Sc. students

Your qualifications:

  • M.Sc. degree (or equivalent) in reservoir engineering, applied geosciences, geophysics, or equivalent
  • background in geothermal reservoir engineering, hydraulic fracturing, rock mechanics and seismology
  • experience in Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical reservoir modelling (preferably MOOSE, OpenGeoSys or equivalent) and/or modelling of hydraulic stimulation treatments and/or earthquake modelling
  • programming skills for code development and pre-/postprocessing (e.g., C++ and python)
  • excellent communication skills
  • willingness and ability to work in an interdisciplinary and international team
  • proficiency in spoken and written English

Start date: as soon as possible
Fixed-term: 3 years
Salary: This position has been assessed as being salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group will be determined by the conditions of the collective wage agreement and the appropriate personal qualifications.
Working hours: part-time 75% (currently 29.25 h/week)
Place of work: Potsdam, Germany

What we offer:

  • ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • state-of-the-art equipment
  • public service benefits
  • extensive training opportunities
  • professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • flexible working hours and conditions
  • support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • institute day-care centre on site
  • working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • good public transport connections by being in walking distance of Potsdam main station

Did we pique your interest?

If so, we are looking forward to receiving your application including (a) a full CV, (b) a cover letter detailing point by point how you meet the required qualifications, (c) your University certificates and (d) names and contact details of two referees by the 15th July 2020. Please use our online application form only.


Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. We therefore very much welcome applications from qualified women. In the case of equal aptitude, severely disabled persons are given preferential consideration in accordance with the Code of Social Law IX.

Your personal data will be treated in line with Art. 6 (1b) and Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with § 26 BbgDSG during the selection process. After the selection process has been concluded, your application documents will be deleted, in line with data protection regulation.

In case of any further queries relating to the role’s responsibilities, please contact Dr. Hofmann on +49 (0) 331 288-28739. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact Ms Buge on +49 (0) 331 288-28787.

Source: GFZ Potsdam