Two PhD positions in Petrology/Volcanology/Mineral Resources

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Mineral Resources Systems (MineRS) Group at the Department of Earth Sciences is primarily interested in quantifying what controls the formation and the size (i.e. metal content) of mineral deposits. We use a cross-​disciplinary approach where data and concepts embracing a broad range of fields are put together to unravel the types of interactions between magmatism, volcanism, hydrothermal activity and tectonic processes that conspire to accumulate scarce metals into a restricted volume of the Earth’s crust.

Application deadline: application open until suitable candidates are found. We will start looking at applications from December 15th 2022 onward.

Starting date: March 2023, at the earliest. Negotiable.

Duration of appointment: 4 years.

Project background

The MineRS group is offering two SNSF fully-funded (4 years) PhD projects. The projects will focus on understanding magma reservoir evolution associated with the construction of arc-related batholiths and how this evolution is conducive to either ore-forming or volcanic events.

Specifically, we are seeking to quantify (1) the timescales, rates and thermomechanical constraints necessary for the growth of upper crustal silicic magma reservoirs sourcing giant copper deposits, (2) the temporal relationship between pluton construction, volcanic eruptions and porphyry copper deposit formation, and (3) the relative timing of focussed fluid outgassing from magma reservoirs and its distribution in time and space. Ultimately, these questions aim at a quantitative assessment of the physical parameters that control the size of porphyry copper deposits.

Job description

The two students will work on applying a range of state-of-the-art analytical and/or numerical methods to study the multi-million year evolution of magmatic systems conducive to the formation of copper deposits. The two projects will involve varying proportions of field work, high-precision geochronology and petrological work on a range of volcanic, hypabyssal and plutonic rocks to shed light on (1) the temporal and petrological connections between them, and (2) uncovering the dynamics and thermal history of magma reservoir(s) at the origin of multiple mineralized centres within the same district. Ideally, at least one of the students would use these new and literature data to constrain thermomechanical numerical models of silicic magma emplacement in the upper crust and explore their ability to evolve to minimize volcanic eruption and favour the growth of large magma reservoirs able to form porphyry copper deposits. The work wiil be shared between the two successful candidates according to their research profile and objectives.

The project will be conducted under the supervision of Prof. Cyril Chelle-Michou. You will also benefit from interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration with international experts in geochronology, volcanology, petrology, thermomechancal modelling and mineral resources.

Your profile

We are seeking a highly motivated individuals with the following essential experience, skills and characteristics:

  • a strong interest in geological field observation, volcanology, igneous petrology, geochronology, mineral resources and quantitative approaches
  • a Master's degree in Earth Sciences or equivalent
  • a good university background in quantitative science (maths, physics, chemistry, programming)
  • excellent team work and communication skills
  • ability to work independently, with flexibility, humour and critical thinking
  • curiosity-driven, creative and open-minded
  • English proficiency (working level)

Desirable criteria (or willingness to learn):

  • familiarity with numerical (thermomechanical) modelling and modern scientific programming (e.g., advanced Matlab and/or Python knowledge) 
  • familiarity with analysing large datasets (e.g., R and/or Python)
  • familiarity with field work in volcanic terrains
  • familiarity with working in a clean lab environment and/or in mass spectrometry

Your workplace

Your workplace




We offer

ETH Zürich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits. As a PhD student you can expect training opportunites and strong perspective for career development. The MineRS group is commited to a strong communication and feedback culture, mutual support and collaboration.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • a Curriculum Vitae
  • copies of BSc and MSc educational records
  • the names and contact details of two references
  • a personal motivation letter describing your expectations  

The selection committee will review applications from December 15th 2022 until the positions are filled. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure. 

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the Department of Earth Sciences can be found on our website www.erdw.ethz.ch. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Cyril Chelle-Michou, email [cyril.chelle-michou@erdw.ethz.ch] (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • a Curriculum Vitae
  • copies of BSc and MSc educational records
  • the names and contact details of two references
  • a personal motivation letter describing your expectations  

The selection committee will review applications from December 15th 2022 until the positions are filled. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure. 

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the Department of Earth Sciences can be found on our website www.erdw.ethz.ch. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Cyril Chelle-Michou, email [cyril.chelle-michou@erdw.ethz.ch] (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.