PhD offer in geomorphology/hydrogeology at IFPEN, Paris, France
IFPEN & Université de Rennes, , France
Start reviewing process: 20 November 2023

We have just been successful in getting combined French/German funding for an exciting project looking at monitoring and modelling the connectivity between groundwater, surface water, and sediment yield in upland catchments, together with Christoff Anderman (Rennes), Micha Dietze (Göttingen) and Niels Hovius (Potsdam). Our project involves two PhD students, one in France with me and one in Germany with Micha, and so the hunt is on to find at least two excellent candidates. Therefore, if you would like to do a PhD that mixes field work and numerical modelling with trips to the beautiful Eifel region (Germany), and live in/near Paris, France (or Göttingen, Germany), please consider applying.

Here is the description:

PhD position - Hidden water and landscape erosion: Understanding the link between storage, release, and catastrophic erosion:

Catastrophic floods and sustained droughts will be increasing as our climate changes. It is uncertain how this change will impact flow pathways and sediment yield within the watersheds of major rivers during hydrological extremes. A crucial element in the routing of discharge, and its erosive impact on landscapes, is subsurface storage of water and its pathways within the critical zone. While water in the subsurface will not directly contribute to local erosion, it will lead to a quick hydraulic response in the larger drainage network, with associated consequences on incision, bank erosion, and increased transport capacities. The challenge is in both observing and predicting change in subsurface water amounts and fluxes.

In this PhD you will join a partnership of four research institutes in Germany (University of Göttingen & GFZ Potsdam) and France (IFPEN & Université de Rennes) to develop methods to numerically model landscape erosion and sediment transport as a function of both surface and groundwater. To do this you will help deploy a network of seismic and hydrological stations to monitor both surface fluxes and change in subsurface saturation within small upland catchments in the Eifel region of Germany. This will involve at least two field missions to the Ahr catchment and an extended period of knowledge exchange at GFZ Potsdam (several weeks). Building on the observations you will develop methods to model the interaction between the surface and the subsurface. The hoped for outcome is a numerical model that is capable of predicting the risk of future catastrophic floods on a 10-to-100-year timescale that will cause significant erosion and damage.

This PhD will be at the leading edge of the application of sedimentology and geomorphology to one of the most important environmental problems of this century. It will give training in the code development using the latest technologies (from sharing development codes through Jupyter notebooks to using advanced C++ libraries to speed up calculations) and through the national and international collaborations will provide opportunities to work closely with both the observations from the field as well as the mathematical and physical modelling.

Scientific discipline: Earth and environmental science, physical sciences, applied mathematics.

Competences: applied numerical modelling, hydrology, hydrogeology, geomorphology, sedimentology, fluvial dynamics.

Key Words: Groundwater, landscape evolution modelling, environmental seismology

When: Starting early spring 2024

Where: IFP Energies Nouvelles, Rueil-Malmaison (Paris suburb), France

Project team: Christoff Andermann (Université de Rennes, France), John Armitage (IFP Energies Nouvelles, France), Micha Dietze (University of Göttingen, Germany), Niels Hovius (GFZ Potsdam, Germany)



John Armitage
Ingénieur de Recherche
IFP Energies nouvelles
1 et 4 avenue de Bois-Préau

92852 Rueil-Malmaison Cedex, France

Of interest for:
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Hydrology Focus Research Group