Job Opening

PhD in New Zealand studying Slow Slip Earthquakes

University of Wellington

Posted: 02/05/2021

Open Until: 04/10/2021

PhD scholarship to investigate slow slip events at the offshore Hikurangi subduction zone

Funding for a three-year study of seismicity and crustal deformation related to slow slip events at the offshore Hikurangi subduction zone has recently been announced by the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

The discovery of slow-motion earthquakes, where faults release pent-up tectonic energy slowly (over days to years), rather than in seconds (as in conventional ‘fast’ earthquakes) has sparked a revolution in the field of seismology and fault mechanics. These “slow slip events” (SSEs) are most widely observed at subduction zones, which also host the Earth’s largest earthquakes and tsunami. Although SSE driving forces remain enigmatic, their semi-predictable, episodic nature with recurrence every few years provide untapped opportunities to monitor high-resolution changes in fault zone properties building up to an SSE, elucidating what drives slip on subduction faults. SSEs on the Hikurangi subduction zone offshore New Zealand’s east coast are remarkable for the range of slow and fast (seismic) slip processes occurring at shallow depths (<10 km), offering a globally-unique opportunity to resolve processes driving slip on subduction zones. The project is designed to detect localized fault zone changes prior to SSEs, revealing the physical mechanisms that regulate slip timing on a major fault capable of generating devastating earthquakes and tsunami. We will use onshore and offshore seismological and geodetic sensors coupled with novel geophysical methods to detect high-resolution changes in fault properties leading into an upcoming SSE offshore southern Hawkes Bay, and a recent Gisborne SSE. The project will contribute to resolving outstanding questions on the driving mechanisms behind SSE occurrence and slip on subduction megathrusts.
The project is being undertaken by Laura Wallace, Emily Warren-Smith, and Katie Jacobs (GNS Science), and Professor Martha Savage (VUW), in collaboration with scientists from the U.S., Japan, and Canada.
Work will commence on the project in 2021. The PhD scholarship will focus primarily on seismological characterisation of the seismicity occurring during offshore slow slip events, using data from an amphibious network of temporary ocean bottom seismometers and land-based broadband seismometers. The student will apply novel seismological analyses to characterize seismological changes throughout the slow slip cycle. The PhD scholarship will provide the recipient with an annual stipend of NZ$27,500 and payment of tuition fees, for three years.
To apply, or for further information, please contact Professor Martha Savage (martha.savage@vuw.ac.nz) or Dr. Emily Warren-Smith (e.warren-smith@gns.cri.nz) attaching a recent CV, academic transcripts, and contact information for two referees. Applicants will need to submit a formal application through the Faculty of Graduate Research ([url=https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/fgr/prospective-phds]https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/fgr/prospective-phds[/url]). Applicants will need to satisfy the University’s English Language requirements and they should preferably have completed a Master of Science (MSc) degree in geophysics, physics, mathematics or a related field, and will ideally have had some prior research and fieldwork experience.

Please note: We are aware that there is some considerable uncertainty regarding current and future border restrictions due to COVID19 pandemic. Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact us to discuss any concerns or constraints on their ability to travel.

How to Apply

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