PhD Petrographic heterogeneity of the Rotliegend sandstone reservoir (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

The University of Groningen has an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 35.000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, we are truly an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering harbours a kaleidoscope of disciplines and research strengths. Our programmes in research and education range from nanomaterials and biomachinery to astronomy, from mathematics to pharmacy, from neurosciences to computer science, and from molecular and evolutionary biology to marine biology.

The Energy and Sustainability Research Institute (ESRIG) is a highly multidisciplinary institute performing research on energy and sustainability. Activities include experimental and model studies as well as studies into the societal interaction with scientific knowledge. The research of the Geo-Energy group within ESRIG is focusing on the safe, sustainable utilisation of the subsurface for energy production and storage as well as carbon utilisation and storage.

Job description

We are looking for a PhD candidate who will investigate the petrographic heterogeneity of the Rotliegend sandstone reservoir of the Groningen gas field within a wider project entitled “The role of heterogeneity in controlling the geomechanical behaviour of sandstone reservoirs”. Pressure changes due to fluid extraction have driven compaction of the sandstone reservoir of the Groningen gas field. This has led to widespread surface subsidence as well as seismic activity and to predict future subsidence the mechanisms controlling compaction within the reservoir have to be understood. The petrographic composition (detrital and authigenic mineralogy, sedimentary facies, grain shape and size, etc.) of the reservoir is thought to be one of the controls. However, the spatial distribution of these petrographic aspects is not yet understood.

The PhD student will develop a detailed petrographic dataset of the Groningen gas field and develop a predictive model for the spatial distribution of sandstone petrography within the gas fields and the surrounding aquifers. The petrographic dataset will then be used as a training dataset for testing Convolutional Neural Networks for image segmentation to allow semi-automated petrography identification.

Responsibilities and tasks:

• petrographic analysis of sandstone thin-sections using optical and scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction measurements to supplement the thin-section data
• advanced image analysis including implementing a machine-learning algorithm to facilitate automated petrography analysis
• create a predictive petrographic model for the reservoir area
• preparation of scientific articles and conference contributions
• contributing and participating in scientific conferences
• teaching activities (15% of total workload) include mostly supervision of bachelor and master students.


The candidate should hold a MSc degree in geology, geosciences, or related disciplines. A background in petrographic analyses of rocks is required, knowledge of a programming language (Python, R, MATLAB) is beneficial. For the motivated and skilled student excellent verbal and written communication skills in English are mandatory.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer the successful candidate in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,395 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,061 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a full-time (1.0 FTE) position for four years
• a position for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; extension of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year so that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected.

A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Candidates are expected to start preferable before 1 August 2021.

Job Application

To be successful the application has to include:

• cover letter
• curriculum vitae
• transcripts from you bachelor’s and master’s degree
• contact details of three potential referees
• any other relevant documents (e.g., short research statement, awards, publications, language certifications).

You can submit your application until 29 April 11:59pm / before 30 April 2021 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty, so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr Johannes Miocic, Assistant Professor

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 221153

Digital application form