PhD project offered by the IMPRS-gBGC in January 2022


Optimization of artefact-minimized sampling techniques and devices for monitoring of aeration zone fluids, percolates and mobile inventory

Kai U. Totsche , Simon Schroeter , Katharina Lehmann

Project description

The thick aeration zone beneath topographic heights (mountain and hillslope areas), comprising variably water-saturated regolith, unconsolidated rock/bedrock and including perched groundwater bodies, are essentially involved in groundwater quality evolution. Yet, due to extremely high technical demands, observation of the aeration zone, its diverse porous media/habitats and transients in fluid/matter transport are only scarcely investigated. In situ-sampling of fluids, percolating water, mobile inventory, and gases in the aeration (vadose) zone always requires invasive access and entails exposure to artificial collection components and disturbed ambient conditions. That generally involves multiple initial and persistent sources for contamination and artefacts. Especially, if sampling of mobile particulates or gases are in focus, drilling procedures and sampling devices are necessarily custom-made for local properties of weathered rock and call for measures to minimize erosion and fouling. This PhD project is dedicated to the optimization of observational techniques to monitor aeration zone fluids and inventory at different sites in Thuringia. Field work comprises geophysical sounding, joint application of a rotary drilling rig, extensive sampling/monitoring campaigns including experimental optimization and hydrogeochemical analysis.

Working group & planned cooperations

Department of Hydrogeology and CRC AquaDiva


Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to well-motivated and highly-qualified students from all countries. Prerequisites for this PhD project are
  • A Master's degree in (bio(geo)chemistry, environmental science, geosciences, (geo-)ecology, geography, soil science, mineralogy, hydrology) or related disciplines in environmental sciences
  • Lab skills
    • Basic hydrochemical methods
    • Basic microscopic techniques (SEM, OPitcal, PolMi)
    • Basic experience in soil physical methods and petrophysical techniques
  • Computational skills
    • Processing and statistical analysis of mixed environmental data sets
    • Explorative statistics and time series analysis
    • GIS, terrain analysis
  • Knowledge on soil and rock sampling (core drilling) and classification/description; petrology (carbonate-rock/siliciclastics)
  • Interest in field experiments, field sampling, construction works, on-site measurements/-instruments
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
  • Physical fitness
  • European driver license
The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

© K. Totsche
© K. Totsche

>> more information about the IMPRS-gBGC + application