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PhD position: Scaling friction from single grain to aggregate grain (fault-gouge) contacts

Job description

The Department Mechanics of Solids, Surfaces & Systems (MS3), part of the faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) is currently seeking a PhD student in the area of modelling friction in crushed rock grains (gouge) in reservoir faults. The work will be done in the Surface Technology and Maintenance (SEM) group, where we work on topics related to surfaces and interfaces, damage and failure mechanisms, e.g. frictional failure in faults leading to earthquakes.

Earthquakes reflect the phenomenon of sudden slip when the frictional strength of faults in the Earths crust is overcome. This project seeks to understand the physical processes controlling this sudden failure through numerical modelling and lab experiments and applying the results to acquire large-scale models for earthquakes caused by gas extraction, geothermal energy production and subsurface storage. Gaining deeper knowledge of frictional mechanisms in faults at different length scales will help improve forecasting of earthquakes and other subsurface phenomena, caused by growing human intervention.

Fractures and discontinuities in rocks, i.e. faults in natural gas reservoirs are typically filled with crushed rocks grains called gouges. In a depleting gas reservoir, stresses on pre-existing faults result in fault reactivation and slip, thereby inducing seismicity. Understanding the friction between the gouge-grains in key to modelling fault slip. Frictional phenomena in individual gouge-grain contact can be experimentally simulated at the microscale as the relevant scale where physical frictional interactions take place. Using results from single grain experiments, a physical basis will be formulated for friction phenomena in microphysical and numerical granular models for fault-gouges.

The aim of the project is to develop physics-based friction models for fault contacts following a bottom-up approach and use these models to compute fault slip resulting in induced seismicity due to subsurface activities. The objectives of the PhD research, to accomplish the main aim will be:

O1. To develop friction laws for single-grain contacts in crushed fault-rock gouges using microscale sliding experiments and numerical models.

O2. To implement these micro-scale friction laws in numerical models developed to compute friction in fault-gouges (dm-scale granular-assembly).

Your profile

  • MSc (Masters) degree inMechanical Engineering or equivalent, preferably with a background in tribology
  • Skills in granular mechanics (particle modelling) and/or experimental techniques like atomic force microscopy is an advantage
  • You are an excellent researcher, eager to learn and to improve;
  • You thrive in a collaborative environment;
  • Your interpersonal skills as well as English language skills are excellent.

Our offer

The UT provides a dynamic and international environment, combining the benefits of academic research with a topic of high industrial relevance, excellent working conditions, an exciting scientific environment, and a green and lively campus. We offer:

  • A full-time 4-year PhD position;
  • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating international research environment with excellent facilities;
  • You are offered a professional and personal development program within Graduate School Twente;
  • A starting salary of €2.434,- gross per month in the first year and a salary of €3.111,- in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays per year in case of fulltime employment.

Information and application

Please submit your application before November, 10th 2021 by using the "Apply now" button. Applications should at least include the following:

  • A motivation letter describing why you apply for this position, with a description of your research interests (no more than 1 A4).
  • A detailed CV.
  • Academic transcripts from your Bachelors and Masters degrees.

The selection procedure includes an interview and scientific presentation.

For more information, contact Dr. T. Mishra (t.mishra@utwente.nl) or Prof.dr.ir. M.B. de Rooij (m.b.derooij@utwente.nl)

About the organization

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) engages in education and research Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering with a view to enabling society and industry to innovate and create value using sound, efficient and sustainable technology. We are part of a ‘people-first' university of technology, taking our place as an internationally leading centre for smart production, processes and devices in five domains: Health Technology, Maintenance, Smart Regions, Smart Industry and Sustainable Resources. Our faculty is home to some 1,800 Bachelor's and Master's students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates and offers three degree programmes: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our educational and research programme are closely connected with UT research institutes Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology' we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT's departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.

PhD position: Scaling friction from single grain to aggregate grain (fault-gouge) contacts
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