PhD Position at Utrecht University

The MEDGATE project is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network with a total of 9 PhD positions and one post-doc position based in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands. There are also Industrial and Academic Partners in France, Morocco, Spain and the UK. Please see the summary of the MEDGATE research program and the training programme. for further details.   The available position is for a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher for 36 months and is available for an immediate start if possible, but ideally the candidate must be able to take up the position by December 2012. The applicant must have a Masters degree in geology, geophysics, oceanography or physics. The successful candidate must be interested in, and capable of, tackling a geological problem by applying physics and modelling.

This project has two components: (1) the mechanism of the Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange through time and (2) the role of tectonics and induced vertical motions.   Mechanism of the Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange through time: The objective of this part of the project is to complement the available geological/geochemical observations with the physics that govern gateway flow, in order to obtain a detailed quantitative understanding of the evolution of exchange between the Mediterranean and Atlantic prior to, during, and after the salinity crisis. This project will tailor existing box models to incorporate new geochemical proxies used in the MEDGATE programme. The existing box models will also be extended by implementing alternative, more realistic representations of the gateway exchange. Sensitivity analysis will be used to assess the feasibility of using the new proxies to test the various hypotheses. The new models serve to test interpretations and hypotheses based on existing and new observations. In addition, use will be made of oceanic general circulation modelling (OGCM) to address issues that lie beyond the reach of the simpler box models. An important question concerns the impact of the double-corridor configuration on Mediterranean circulation patterns. This builds on an on-going OGCM-based study of the single gateway situation and will address questions such as, what happens to the Mediterranean when you close one gateway? Does it make a difference to the Mediterranean which gateway you close? What triggers the transition from two-way flow to one-way flow and back again?

The role of tectonics and induced vertical motions: The evolution of both the gateway region and the basins accommodating the Messinian evaporites has been affected by tectonic activity and large-scale vertical motions induced by the deposition of these evaporites. In the gateway region these processes may have contributed to the restriction of the water exchange. In the basins these same processes could be responsible for some of the unconformities present within the sequence. The aim of this part of the project is to try and understand these aspects better, again from the vantage point of modelling. The role of tectonics in the region of the Atlantic corridors will be studied using finite-element models for the deformation of the lithosphere. Vertical motions—at the gateway but also elsewhere in the Mediterranean—as induced by deposition of the evaporites and sea-level lowering requires modelling the flexural response of the lithosphere. Evaporite deposition and the flexural response of the lithosphere may occur on the same timescale (a few thousand years) which makes it especially interesting to study their interaction in a time-dependent fashion.   Eligibility Rules   The early stage researcher recruited to MEDGATE will be registered as a PhD students at Utrecht University. To be considered for this position, the applicant must have been awarded their Masters degree not more than four years before the date of recruitment. They should not already have obtained a doctoral degree.   EU mobility rules   Researchers can be of any nationality. However, applicants are not eligible for positions hosted by institutions in a country in which they have lived or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to recruitment. Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account.

*A researcher with family charges e.g. marriage or relationship with equivalent status to a marriage recognised by the national legislation of the country of the host organisation or of the nationality of the researcher, and/or dependent children who are being maintained by the researcher, will be paid a higher mobility rate of 1000€/month. **The total allowance is subject to the host country’s deductions of both the employer and employee e.g. e.g. income tax, national insurance/social security contributions etc.   To apply for the position, please download and complete the application form and send to The position will remain open until a suitable applicant is found.   Informal enquiries about the position should be made to Paul Meijer (Utrecht University) at or Rachel Flecker (MEDGATE Coordinator) at

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