Subsurface geological characterization using multiphysics geophysical inversions and petrophysics

University College Dublin, School of Earth Sciences
University College Dublin, School of Earth Sciences
All university tuition fees, an annual tax-free stipend of €18,000, and a research grant of €4,000
Closing date
Sep 25, 2021

Job Details

About the project

The digitalization phenomenon associated with the current fourth industrial revolution is different from the previous three because it is rooted in technology instead of a new type of energy. This revolution includes the replacement of traditional energy with renewable energy. Therefore, natural resources are needed to construct infrastructure to increase mobility, to develop digital life, and to produce renewable energy. The current rate of discovery of mineral deposits is lower than the demand of society. In part, because most mineral deposits closest to the surface have already been found and recycling techniques do not yet produce enough quantities to supply this demand. Therefore, mineral exploration has been focusing on deep subsurface regions, which requires the application of geophysical methods. Traditional 2D geophysical applications are no longer producing the desired results. For this reason, this fully funded four-year PhD project will explore 3D modeling and integration of multi-physics geophysical methods and petrophysics aiming to construct better subsurface models for solving geological challenges in mineral exploration.

This project is focused on the construction of integrated 3D models of an exploration area by using seismic, petrophysical, and drill core logging data as subsurface constraints in multiphysics inversions of magnetic, electromagnetic, and gravity gradient data. The construction of more accurate and consistent multiphysics inversion models can be used to better guide exploration targeting decisions by incorporating machine learning to identify the desired patterns in this environment with multiple dimensions, i.e., advance interpretation for defining types of rocks (geology differentiation). As a part of the research, a database of physical properties of rocks of interest in Ireland will be built from existing data and by acquiring additional measurements (velocity, magnetic susceptibility, conductivity, density, and chargeability) in the new Petrophysics Laboratory at UCD.

The project is flexible and can be tailored to the student’s interests. Possible topics to be explored are (1) the incorporation of petrophysical data into geophysical inversion using machine learning methods and (2) lithology prediction from geophysical models using machine learning. The methods developed throughout the study will be applied to geophysical data recently (2018-2019) acquired by the Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) over the Limerick Basin, which hosts large deposits of the Irish zinc field (Lisheen Mine 18.9Mt @ 15.0% Zn, Galmoy Mine 6.4Mt @ 12.4% Zn, and Pallas Green Deposit 42Mt @ 8.0% Zn). Furthermore, the advanced data science skills acquired in this project are highly valued across most industries. This project is suitable for a candidate who wishes to conduct applied research that makes an immediate impact in the real world.

Candidate profile

For the development of this project, the student needs a solid background on the physics and maths of the geophysical methods, for this reason a bachelor’s degree in Geophysics is required. The core of the project is on the application and development of methods of 3D inversion of geophysical data; for this reason, good programing skills (preferentially in Python) are required. Some experience in research is highly relevant, for this reason a MSc is desirable (but not required). Keen interest in geology and machine learning is important, as well as willingness to collaborate with the open-source community. The student will receive training in geophysical inversion, geology of the study area, machine learning, and other relevant methodologies.

You will join a large team of researchers at the UCD School of Earth Sciences ( and join iCRAG (, the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences who are creating solutions for a sustainable society.

Funding provided

The successful applicant for this project will be based at the School of Earth Sciences, University College Dublin. The project is funded by a 4 year, fully funded scholarship (both EEA/EU and non-EEA/EU applicants are eligible to apply). It covers university tuition fees, an annual tax-free stipend of €18,000, and a project-specific research grant covering research expenses and conferences.

The successful candidate will start on 5th January 2022. We will consider the current COVID-19 situation and will discuss transitions especially for international applicants.

How to apply

Please fill out the form in this link ( In the end of the form you will be asked for you CV, a motivation letter, and a valid English test for non-native English speakers according to UCD guidelines (
               Closing date: 24th September 2021 (evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter).

Equality, diversity, and inclusion

UCD is committed to creating an inclusive environment where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is afforded equality of opportunity. To that end the university adheres to a range of equality, diversity, and inclusion policies. We encourage applicants to consult those policies ( We welcome applications from everyone, including those who identify with any of the protected characteristics that are set out in our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

About the supervisors

    Dr. Aline Melo is an assistant professor at University College Dublin (Ad Astra Fellow). She received a B.S. (2008) in geology and M.Sc. in geophysics from Universidade de Brasilia (Brazil). Aline completed a Ph.D. (2018) in geophysics at Colorado School of Mines (United States). She is a geologist and geophysicist passionate about closing the gap between geophysical tools and geological challenges. More information
    Dr. Murray Hitzman is Director of iCRAG, the SFI Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences, and a Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor. Murray has B.A. degrees in geology and anthropology from Dartmouth College (1976), an M.S. in geology from University of Washington (1978), and a Ph.D. in geology from Stanford University (1983). He was largely responsible for the Chevron Corporationʼs Lisheen Zn- Pb-Ag deposit discovery in Ireland (1990). More information

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