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PhD: Climate reconstruction of the late Permian and Early Triassic

Project Title

Climate reconstruction of the late Permian and Early Triassic


University of Zürich

Supervisors and Institutions

Prof. Hugo Bucher (University of Zuerich); Prof Tortsten Vennemann (University of Lausanne); Prof. Urs Schaltegger (University of Geneva); Prof. Maura Brunetti (University of Geneva).

Funding Status

Funding is in place for this project

Project Description

6 PhD positions available in an interdisciplinary research program on climate reconstruction during the late Permian and Early Triassic (universities of Zürich, Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland)

We seek applications for six PhD positions in an interdisciplinary program aimed at a quantitative-numerical, fully consistent, time-resolved, global environmental model for the high-frequency and high-amplitude climate changes during the late Permian and the Early Triassic.
The six offered PhD projects cover the following topics:
PhD 1 and 2 (UZH): high resolution ammonoid (PhD1) and conodont (PhD2) sampling of sections, worldwide. Taxonomy based on intraspecific variation analyses. Quantitative biochronology by means of unitary associations. Quantitative biogeographic analyses from regional to global scales and development of numerical simulations and sensitivity experiments at both scales. Relations between evolutionary turnover rates, ecological partitioning and abiotic stresses. Experience with field work and intensive sampling, a good knowledge of PAST and interest in numerical modelling are all valuable assets. Both PhD students will closely interact closely with other PhD students of the project involved in geochemistry, geochronology and climate modelling.
PhD 3 and 4 (UNIL): high resolution sampling and measurements of geochemical (major and trace elements (including Hg concentrations), organic matter and carbonate content) and isotopic (conventional C-, O-, and S-isotope as well as clumped isotopes, and radiogenic Sr-, Nd-isotope) compositions of samples from selected Permian-Triassic profiles. This will also include further analytical improvements for the analytical methods used for both biomineralized carbonate and phosphate, notably the clumped isotope measurements of carbonates and SIMS measurements of phosphates. The PhD students will exchange ideas and results with the other students from UZH and UNIGE and to help constrain the modeling parts for a global Permian-Triassic transition period.
PhD 5 (UNIGE): high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronology on volcanic ashes inter-bedded with fossiliferous marine sediments, possibly high-resolution oxygen and carbon isotope analyses to establish a tight control on temporal variation in temperature and bio-productivity, as well as trace-element and Hf isotope analyses on accessory minerals from the dated ash beds. Calculation of Bayesian age-depth models. Fieldwork joint with UZH group. Previous experience performing geochemical analyses, and an affinity for careful and disciplined working in a clean-air laboratory as well as with with analytical equipment would be wishful.
PhD 6 (UNIGE): set-up of the coupled atmosphere-ocean-sea ice model MITgcm, evaluation of its ability to simulate the Triassic-Permian climate changes, improvement of its physical parameterizations in order to include full carbon cycle and coupling with ice-sheet dynamics, analysis of its sensitivity to sea-level changes, close interaction with other PhD students within the project for constructing proper initial/boundary conditions. Experience with high-performance computing and with ocean, atmosphere or climate models is an asset.

The research team from the three universities will comprise 6 PhD students and 5 researchers in paleontology, geochemistry, geochronology, plate tectonic and climate modelling, funded by the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research until November 2022. The successful candidates will be integrated in a teaching program featuring different short courses on relevant topics within the frame of this interdisciplinary research program.
We invite applicants with a MSc., Diploma, high-ranking BSc. (honors; 1st class or 2-1), and/or equivalent degree(s) in Earth Sciences or in Physics for PhD 6. The candidates should have an aptitude for quickly learning new skills. Fluency in speaking, reading and writing scientific English is required. The project will start 1 November, 2018. Gross salary is 47-50 kCHF per year, social charges and taxes amount to a maximum of 20%. Candidates with Swiss citizenship, from countries belonging to the European Union and the AELE will be given priority for administrative reasons.
Applications (including a CV, a list of three referees, and a statement about motivation and career planning) should be sent as soon as possible, but before June 10, 2018, in one pdf file to the following persons:
Prof. Hugo Bucher ( for PhD positions 1 and 2
Prof. Torsten Vennemann ( for PhD positions 3 and 4
Prof. Urs Schaltegger ( for PhD position 5
Dr. M. Brunetti ( for PhD position 6
For further questions, please contact directly any of the four group leaders via email. Selected candidates will be invited for a one-day recruitment workshop at the end of June 2018.

Contact Name

Hugo Bucher

Contact Email

Closing Date

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Expiry Date

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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