Imaging and characterizing deformation patterns on the plate interface

PhD position in characterizing and modeling interpolate deformation transients in subduction zones

Main host institution: GFZ Potsdam

Secondment Institution: UPMC Paris

The GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (national center for Geosciences in Germany) seeks to appoint a PhD student in numerical modeling of interpolate deformation in subduction zones.

The successful applicant will join the Lithosphere Dynamics laboratory (section 3.1) and work locally in a close collaboration with Prof. Onno Oncken (head of department), Dr. Samuel Angiboust and Dr. Marcos Moreno.

She/He will also collaborate with Profs. Philippe Agard and Evgueni Burov (Paris University) in order to observe and characterize interpolate deformation in exhumed rocks and get additional insights into numerical modeling of geodynamic processes, respectively.

The objective of this PhD is to image the transient deformation patterns at the plate interface and to characterize its relationship to rheological parameters. The candidate will work on (1) field evidence from an ancient subduction interface (focusing on the case–‐study of the Alps) and (2) the development of a visco–‐ lasto–‐plastic Finite Element Model of a subduction plate interface in  order to characterize the physical parameters controlling seismicity and creep at various depths (10–‐80km) along the interface. Comparison of output modeling results with quantified deformation patterns in exhumed rocks from ancient subduction interfaces will permit to bridge the gap between field (meter to kilometer–‐size scale) and geophysical observations (kilometer to pluri–‐kilometer scale). The large  amount of geodetic, seismological and field observation data available at the GFZ (already acquired via several campaigns over  the last decade and via the Integrated Plate boundary Observatory Chile–‐IPOC) will also serve as natural constraints in order to calibrate the unknown parameters. This study will contribute to a better understanding of fault healing, evolution of the physical state, and mechanisms of locked and creeping domains and their relation to seismic rupture at the subduction interface.

Candidates must hold an MSc in Applied Physics, Earth Sciences or a related discipline. A good command of finite- element numerical modeling and solid/fluid mechanics is necessary. Experience in geology/geodynamics/seismology/geodesy and programming languages is advantageous.

The GFZ is situated in Potsdam, a very pleasant city  in Berlin neighborhoods. During his PhD supervised by Prof. Oncken, the candidate will benefit from a multi‐disciplinary environment by  collaborating with several members from the Lithosphere dynamics laboratory (expertise in GPS & geodesy, field work and petrology, tomography). The candidate will also have the opportunity to take part in several field  campaigns during his PhD (Chile, Alps and other key localities worldwide). She/he will spend ~6 months in Paris at the second mentor institution with Philippe Agard and Evgueni Burov (UPMC).

For further information, please contact Prof. Onno Oncken (oncken@gfz–‐ or Prof. Philippe Agard (

Starting date is expected between March and May 2014.

New deadline to apply: Feb 15th, 2014.