Project Description

A full project description can be found on Find a PhD [LINK]. Please see below for additional information about this project:

The PhD student will develop skills in hydraulic testing and hydrogeological data analyses, including data acquisition, processing and interpretation, field hydrogeology and geophysics, numerical modelling, research presentation as well as critical reading and writing.

Ulrich Ofterdinger and Jean-Christoph Comte will jointly lead the project as 1st and 2nd supervisor, respectively This collaboration provides key technical expertise in hydrogeology and hydrogeophysics, geothermal energy and numerical groundwater flow modelling as well as comprehensive field datasets for the study site from previous joint research projects.

Essential skills

  • First degree in geology/geophysics, hydrogeology, physics, environmental science or similar with a strong numerate component.
  • Scientific writing and presentation experience.
  • Strong organisation skills and motivation to tackle complex problems.

Desired skills

  • Geophysical and/or hydrogeological fieldwork experience;
  • Background and/or strong interest/experience in geothermal energy, hydrogeology, geophysics or a combination of these subjects.
  • Experience in handling complex environmental datasets.


Ulrich Ofterdinger

Primary Supervisor:

Profile: Ulrich Ofterdinger
Institution: Queen's University, Belfast
Department/School: School of Natural and Built Environment

Jean-Christophe Comte

Secondary Supervisor:

Profile: Jean-Christophe Comte
Institution: University of Aberdeen
Department/School: School of Geosciences

Rory Doherty

Additional Supervisor:

Profile: Rory Doherty
Institution: Queen's University, Belfast
Department/School: School of Natural and Built Environment

Proposed Timetable

The timetable for the research project will be adapted in line with the background and expertise of the incoming research students. Nominally, the schedule for the project will include:
Year 1
Background study on ATES technology; Initial, Review and Analysis of existing geological and hdyrogeological datasets for case study site; training of geophysics and hydraulic field application;
Year 2
Field tests at case study site; Trial of different characterisation techniques (e.g. hydraulic testing, downhole geophysics, cross-hole geophysics, distributed temperature sensing); derivation of aquifer parameters (hydraulic and thermal); presentations of initial findings at UK/international conference, drafting of manuscript of first paper publication

Year 3
Field tests at case study site (long-term thermal tests); Development of initial numerical groundwater flow and heat transport simulations; presentations of findings at international conference, drafting of manuscript of second paper publication

Year 4
Refinement of numerical modelling studies; evaluation of scale-dependent heterogeneity on system performance; presentation of findings at international conference, drafting of third paper publication
Throughout the project, the research student will spend time working with the research groups at Queen’s University Belfast and University of Aberdeen to develop skills across the areas of hydrogeophysics, hydrogeology and geothermal energy


  • earth-systems
  • environmental-management

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