PhD position, volcanic eruptions in ice cores - Bern, Switzerland

A PhD position in geochemical fingerprinting of volcanic eruptions in ice cores is available at the division of Climate and Environmental Physics (CEP) at the Physics Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland.

This PhD project is part of the European Research Council Consolidator Grant, "Timing of Holocene volcanic eruptions and their radiative aerosol forcing (THERA)".


The announced PhD position is for four years. The preferred starting date is October 2019.


The goal of the THERA project is to extract data on the timing, magnitude and source location of the major volcanic eruptions that occurred during the Holocene (i.e. the past 12,000 years). THERA is focused on developing a state-of-the-art reconstruction of volcanic aerosol forcing on global climate using novel analytical tools and an array of deep ice-cores from Greenland and Antarctica.

The PhD student will apply 1) sulfur isotopes (33S, 34S) as a tool for constraining plume injection heights, 2) investigate high-resolution glaciochemical archives of ash and aerosol delivery to elucidate eruption proximity, and 3) undertake detailed tephra sampling and geochemical analyses for fingerprinting provenance. The PhD student will integrate the developing ice-core tephrochronology into regional tephrochronological frameworks from both hemispheres allowing to study the size/frequency distribution of volcanism in different regions since the last ice age.


- Strong analytical skills and a Master’s degree in physics, chemistry, geosciences (or related)
- Fluent spoken and written English are prerequisites for this position
- Excellent collaboration skills and ability to successfully join in academic teamwork within and across disciplines
- Experience in the use of geochemical analytical techniques or tephra analyses is advantageous
- Some experience in statistics, database management and programming would be beneficial.

On offer

- A fully-funded position for four years (salary according to Swiss National Science Foundation rules)
- A professionally stimulating working environment in a small team
- The student will benefit from the support of an active, interdisciplinary research environment.

The PhD students will work alongside members of the Continuous Flow Analyses Laboratory, the Oeschger Centre of Climate Change Research (OCCR) and international project partners (e.g. St Andrews Isotope Geochemistry, UK)


Deadline for applications is 21 July 2019.

Applicants should upload a CV, a statement of research experience and interests (max. 2 pages), a pdf or a web link to the master thesis, and contact information of 2 references as a single pdf at:

Consideration of applications begins immediately. The position will stay open until filled.

Further information

Contact supervisor Prof. Michael Sigl, University of Bern, +41 31 631 8652: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.