Netherlands: PhD position in life & earth sciences

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PhD position f/m

‘New 40Ar/39Ar constraints for the Paleogene Time Scale’

For 1,0 fte


The PhD student is expected to:

•Participate actively in the GTSnext trainings programme;

•Perform 40Ar/39Ar experiments on Paleogene ash –layers;

•To contribute to tasks of the Isotope Geochemistry Group including
for example assist in teaching and in some laboratory responsibilities;

•To have an excellent motivation, and social skills;

•To write a dissertation.


University Graduate

The candidate must have an Msc degree obtained in Earth Sciences,
an aptitude for instrumental analytical techniques, and less than 4
year research experience.

Additional information about the job:
department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU
University Amsterdam, has a vacancy for a PhD studentship. This
position is part of the Marie Curie Initial Trainings Network GTSnext
funded under the 7th Framework Programme. The goals of the network are
to establish the next generation standard Geological Time Scale with
substantially improved accuracy, precision, resolution and stability
for the last 100 Myr through integration and intercalibration of
state-of-the-art numerical dating techniques and to train young
geochronologists as specialists in these techniques.

We offer a research and training program for in total 9 PhD’s and 3
post-docs to be appointed in 10 research groups in Europe and aimed to
exploit the inherent strengths of three important chronometers
(astronomical dating, 40Ar/39Ar, U/Pb) to address current
inconsistencies in the Geological Time Scale. As these strengths are
correlated with specific geological time intervals we have subdivided
the research programme around three ‘time slices’ tasks. A fourth task
has been designed to address more fundamental issues that underlie each
of the techniques involved. The PhD student position is part of task II
– calibrating the Paleogene Time scale. Collaborations will be
established within each task: the team working on the Paleogene will
consist of 3 PhD students and within each contributing technique: in
this case the team of 3 PhD students and 1 post-doc working in
40Ar/39Ar geochronology (for further information on the organization of
the network we refer to

Contents of the research

The aim is to recalibrate the Paleogene time scale using 40Ar/39Ar
dating to provide tight age constraints on the astronomical tuning of
cyclic pre-Neogene successions. The new age data will be directly
combined with the other project results in task II as well as with
existing literature to construct a new astronomical time scale with an
unprecedented accuracy and resolution for key stratigraphic intervals
in the Paleogene. This new time scale can then directly be applied to
assess fundamental aspects of Earth’s history such as seafloor
spreading rate histories and the potential role of long-period orbital
climate forcing. Several initial target intervals have been identified
for this project: the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-T) boundary and early
Paleocene, the Paleocene-Eocene (P-E) boundary and the Eocene-Oligocene
(E-O) boundary. Bentonites in magnetostratigraphically well-constrained
sections the Western Interior Basin (USA and Canada) spanning the K-T
boundary and early Paleocene will be (re-)dated to confirm and/or
improve existing astronomical tunings (e.g. in Zumaia, Spain, and from
ODP leg 198 and 208 sites). Ash layers associated with the North
Atlantic Igneous Province (the flood basalts provide a possible
causative mechanism for climate change at the Paleoceone-Eocene
transition), and in magnetostratigraphically well-constrained
terrestrial successions in Wyoming and Nebraska (USA) and from the E-O
boundary stratotype section at Massignano (Italy) will be targeted to
constrain the astronomical tuning of the P-E and E-O boundary intervals
and to intercalibrate the 40Ar/39Ar and U/Pb dating methods. Selected
ash layers will be sampled by Task-2 team members during joint
field-campaigns. Samples will be prepared at the VU University and
distributed between GTSnext 40Ar/39Ar laboratories for interlaboratory
bias assessment.


VU University Amsterdam Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has
been a renowned cultural, scientific and commercial centre for many
centuries. It was here, in 1880, that the VU Amsterdam first opened its
doors to students. Throughout the past century, the university has
continued to expand. It now comprises twelve faculties (Arts, Earth-
and Life Sciences, Dentistry, Human Movement Sciences, Economics and
Business Administration, Law, Medicine, Philosophy, Psychology and
Education, Sciences, Social-Cultural Sciences and Theology) and has
teaching facilities for 15,000 students.

The university campus and university hospital are situated in the
south part of Amsterdam, one of the most dynamic and fast-growing
business districts in the Netherlands. The international airport of
Schiphol-Amsterdam is 10 kilometres away, just 8 minutes by train.

With more than fifty undergraduate (or bachelor’s) programmes and
almost a hundred postgraduate (or master’s) programmes, the VU
Amsterdam offers a wide choice of study options. The programmes are of
a high quality, the atmosphere is very conducive to study, and the
teaching staff is easily accessible.

The Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences is the
result of the merger between the former Faculty of Earth Sciences,
Faculty of Biology and the Institute of Environmental Studies. The
Faculty is offering education and doing research in the fields of:

Earth Sciences (physical geography and geology)


Biomedical Sciences


Public Health

Environmental Studies

Conditions of employment

Employment basis: Temporary for specified period
Duration of the contract: temporary

Additional conditions of employment:
Further particulars

The position (Researcher) will be available at the Vrije
Universiteit Amsterdam in the Isotope Geochemistry Group. Additional
eligibility rules concerning nationality and research experience apply,
because the position is part of a Marie Curie Initial Trainings
Network. The appointment will be available initially for 12 months and
will be extended with 24 months based on a full-time employment. The
appointment should result in submission of a dissertation at the end of
year 3.


The salary is € 2.379,- gross per month in the first year to €
2.612,- in the third year (salary scale 10), based on a full-time
employment. You can find information about our excellent fringe
benefits of employment at In addition, EU
regulated MC-ITN Network benefits apply.

Additional Information

Or additional information can be obtained through one of the following links.

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You can apply for this job before 30-10-2008 by sending your application to:

VU University Amsterdam
Faculty Earth and Life Sciences
Dr. J.M.R.M. Neutelings
De Boelelaan 1085
1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
E-mail address:

Additional information

Further information on the project can be obtained from Dr. Jan Wijbrans, phone +31 (20)

59 87296, e-mail:, or Dr. Klaudia Kuiper, phone +31 (20) 59 83559,

e-mail:, and from the head of the Isotope Geochemistry Group,

Professor Dr. P.A.M. Andriessen, Phone +31(20) 59 87340, e-mail:

More information on:

•GTSnext can be found at:

•the Marie Curie Programme can be found at:

•the Isotope Geochemistry Group can be found at:


Written applications should include a curriculum vitae, names of
two academics references, course transcripts and copy of the MSc
diploma and certified translations of these documents in the English
language where appropriate, and a motivation of interest in this
specific position. Please mention the vacancy number in the e-mail
header or at the top of your letter and on the envelope. Send your
application before October 30, 2008 to the VU University Amsterdam,
Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, attn. dr. J.M.R.M. Neutelings,
Managing Director, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The
Netherlands. It is also possible to apply by e-mail to:

Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with.

When applying for this job always mention the vacancy number 1.2008.00292.


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