PhD 1: Mixing and chemical reaction hotspots in saline-freshwater mixing zones

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The Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research  is offering a PhD scholarship on the topic “Mixing and chemical reaction hotspots in saline-freshwater mixing zones” starting preferably before July 1, 2017.
The project is funded by the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network “ENIGMA – EU Training Network for In situ imaGing of dynaMic processes in heterogeneous subsurfAce environments” within the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission.
ENIGMA is a consortium of high profile universities, research institutions and companies located in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, USA and UK, and will train 15 PhD students in total (Early Stage Researcher, ESR).
This particular PhD (ESR PhD 1) will be based at Barcelona at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (CSIC) with research stays at CNRS Rennes, UNIL Lausanne, ACA Barcelona.

In order to be eligible, each applicant must fulfill the following criteria at the time of recruitment:

  • Mobility: At the time of recruitment, the applicant must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc…) in the country of the host organization for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment.
    Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.
  • Qualifications and research experience: The applicant must fulfill the requirements defined for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs): ESRs are researchers who, at the time of recruitment, have NOT yet been awarded the doctorate degree and are in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of his/her research career.

Project description

Groundwater flow and solute transport in coastal aquifers are influenced by the dependence of the fluid density on solute concentrations. Density variations markedly impact groundwater flow patterns and significantly affect transport of active and passive contaminants, their dispersion, mixing and reaction behavior. Furthermore, in coastal aquifers mixing of SW-FW (saltwater and freshwater) is usually affected by temporally and spatially nonuniform variations of the flow field in response to heterogeneity of the hydraulic properties of the subsurface and transient effects. Mixing across the SW-FW interface has been the subject of long debate, as it has a strong impact on biological, geological, and geochemical processes at the coast, such as karst development, exchange reactions (including mobilization of Radium, used for quantifying nutrients fluxes into the ocean), and biochemical processes. Our conjecture is that mixing is hindered by stable salinity but enhanced by sea level fluctuations, and seasonal variations of temperature and inland recharge. Monitoring these, coupled to field experiments and numerical modelling, should provide new insights into mixing and freshwater displacement in coastal aquifers and subsequent geochemical reactions. This ESR will collaborate with ESRs 9 and 12 on the development and use of novel techniques for the characterization of transport and flow heterogeneity as well as reaction monitoring, which will feed into new theoretical approaches for the identification of mixing and reaction hotspots. These approaches are based on (i) quantification of flow heterogeneity and fluid deformation, (ii) identification of flow strain and stress centers, which drive concentration gradients and mixing, (iii) the development of mixing and reaction diagnostics to explain and predict observed reaction patterns.

Principal supervisor is Marco Dentz, CSIC Barcelona, E-mail: marco.dentz(at)

Job description

The position is available for a 3-year period and the key tasks as a PhD student are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project
  • To attend PhD courses
  • To write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • To teach and disseminate your research
  • To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad
  • To be involved in departmental and group activities

Formal requirements

Applicants should hold an MSc degree (or equivalent) with good grades and good English skills. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on relevant work experience and previous publications (if any).

Background of successful candidate

We invite candidates from different scientific fields to apply; geophysics, hydrology, hydrogeology, hydrogeophysics, biogeochemistry, microbiology, soil physics or a related discipline.. The candidate should have a solid background in mathematical analysis, modeling of hydrological processes and handling of large data sets. Furthermore, the candidate must have excellent personal skills and be able to work in a team. Experience with field work is desirable.

Terms of Employment

The successful candidates will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for early stage researchers. The exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment and is dependent on the country correction factor (to allow for the difference in cost of living in different EU Member States). The salary includes a living allowance, a mobility allowance and a family allowance (if married). The guaranteed PhD funding is for 36 months (i.e. EC funding, additional funding is possible, depending on local supervisor).

For instance, for the ESR in France the annual salary will be :
41 425,20€  + 7,200€ (for mobility allowance) + €6,000 (for family allowance, if eligible); this is before any applicable tax and/or deductions

Application Procedure

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically through the ENIGMA website and must include the following:

  • Cover Letter, stating your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project.
  • CV, including list of publications (journal articles, master’s thesis)
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • References

IN ENIGMA, we wish to recruit ESRs that reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.
There will be a first round of evaluation between January, 23rd and January, 31st.
There will be two other evaluation processes in March 2017 and in June 2017.
Candidates can continuously apply until June 2017


For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor.

Marco Dentz
E-mail: marco.dentz(at)

Start date: 01-07-2017
Department/Location: CSIC Barcelona

This position has been filled ! Please look at our other PhD positions offers !