PhD position at GFZ-Potsdam to study marine terraces
GFZ-Potsdam, , Germany
Start reviewing process: 25 October 2023

I am recruiting a PhD student at GFZ-Potsdam for an exciting project focusing on why and how marine terraces are created and preserved in tectonically active coastal landscapes with a focus on Japan. These terraces are particularly important to constrain the risk in earthquake-prone areas yet we still understand little about the mechanisms and settings that control their geometry, presence, or absence. More details about the project are listed below.

There is no application deadline for the position yet as we gather expressions of interest but we expect a start in Spring 2024 at the latest (ideally). Please get in touch ( if you would like to know more about the project. I will be attending AGU this December if you would like to meet. I will also be working in the Tokyo, Kyoto, and Sendai area in November and December.

Best wishes, Luca

The Temari project (手毬: Tectonic and wave controls on the generation and preservation of marine terraces) is funded by the German Science Foundation and led by Luca Malatesta at GFZ Potsdam and Sumiko Tsukamoto at LIAG Hannover. Shigeru Sueoka at JAEA, and Yuki Matsushi at Kyoto University complete the team. The PhD candidate will be based at GFZ Potsdam, in the section Earth Surface Process Modelling (

Wave-cut marine terraces — platforms carved by wave erosion and displaced by crustal deformation — have long been a focus of geomorphological studies as recorders of past sea level and rock uplift. Along tectonically active coastlines, they record the rate of rock uplift. They can be crucial to decipher crustal deformation over multiple earthquake cycles and constrain the associated seismic hazard. Yet, the environmental controls on their creation and preservation remain relatively poorly known and the models proposed for their creation have been insufficiently tested.

The objective of the Temari project is to identify and quantify which environmental conditions (i.e., rock uplift, wave power, lithology, etc.) promote or hinder the creation and preservation of marine terraces. The field sites for the project are the Noto Peninsula and the Island of Sado on the NW shore of Japan. This will lead to a much richer understanding and analysis of coastal topography for tectonic studies with the extraction of information not only from the elevation of marine terraces and their simple presence, but also from their width, succession patterns, and the information conveyed by their absence.

We are looking for a motivated and curious PhD candidate to research marine terraces with a mix of field work, GIS analysis, and numerical modeling. Are you interested, would you like hear more about this project? please contact Luca Malatesta at .

Start date: flexible but ideally no later than May 2024. Contract: 3 years, 75% TVÖD 13 (ca. €43.500.-/yr).

Your responsibilities:

  • Co-leading field missions
  • Sedimentological analysis of marine terrace deposits
  • Geomorphological observations and mapping of terrace systems
  • Topographic analysis with GIS.
  • Development and/or improvement of numerical models for terrace generation
  • Integration of field observation in numerical models
  • Proactive scientific interaction with the research group at GFZ and with the community at large
  • Publication of results in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences

Your qualifications:

  • Master degree in Earth Sciences or equivalent field
  • Major or minor in active tectonics and/or geomorphology
  • Familiarity with numerical modeling is a strong desirable
  • Experience in the field is a desirable
  • Knowledge of a programming language (expert knowledge is not required)
  • Knowledge and familiarity with GIS software and methods
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Proficiency in reading Japanese is a desirable

What we offer:

  • Dynamic and international research team
  • Possibility to live in and commute from Berlin
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Professional career advice offered by our 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
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam train station

Dr. Luca C. Malatesta, he/him; @_geoLuca
Earth Surface Signals group leader
Earth Surface Process Modelling Section 4.7, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam

GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Of interest for:
  • Marine Working Group
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Coastal Working Group