PhD Project in Mineralogy/Geochemistry

Surtsey. Photo taken in 2006 by Magnús Ólafsson.

IceSUSTAIN: A New Drill Core at Surtsey Volcano: A Natural Laboratory for Time-Lapse Characterization of Hydrothermal Seawater and Microbial Interactions with Basaltic Tephra.

IceSUSTAIN is the Iceland-based part of the SUSTAIN drilling program (Surtsey Underwater volcanic System for Thermophiles, Alteration processes and INnovative Concretes), a multidisciplinary international project bringing together over 40 scientists from 10 countries (Australia, Germany, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA). The project focuses on the volcanic island of Surtsey, created by the 1963–1967 basaltic eruptive activity within the southern offshore extension of the SE Icelandic volcanic rift zone. Two new drillholes are planned. One will extract a 210 m vertical core adjacent and parallel to the 180 m hole drilled in 1979 and the other will extract a 300 m inclined core that further explores the volcanic edifice of Surtsey. The drilling will be complemented by analysis of the eruptive activity and geophysical surveys. Surtsey was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, and "has been protected since its birth, providing the world with a pristine natural laboratory.” It represents a world-class example of a rift zone volcano that has grown from the sea floor in historic time.


The principal scientific objective of this PhD project is to understand progressive fluid-rock interaction in oceanic hydrothermal systems including effects of time on the rate of palagonitization, type of alteration mineralogy, role of temperature and overall mass transfer in the system.

Your specific tasks

Fluid-rock interaction, through descriptions of the time-integrated devitrification of basaltic glass, nucleation of secondary minerals, and mass transfer within an evolving hydrothermal system under variable chemical, temperature, and physical conditions.

  • Mineralogical study of the 1979 Surtsey core.
  • Participating in the drilling project on Surtsey (summer 2017).
  • Detailed mineralogical, petrological and petrographical analysis of the new cores including following techniques XRD, EPMA, SEM, LA-ICP-MS as well as the application of sophisticated isotope systems.
  • The progressive basalt-seawater interaction and mass movement under hydrothermal conditions in a young formation will be defined, based on the detailed analysis of alteration mineralogy and pore water fluid chemistry
  • Collaboration with peers of the SUSTAIN research group.
  • Publication of the results.

Your profile

  • MSc degree in Geosciences.
  • Pronounced interest in fluid-rock interaction research questions.
  • Experience in geochemical and mineralogical lab work.
  • Experience in field work is an advantage.
  • Fluent English communication skills and the capability to present scientific results at international conferences and in scientific publications.


The starting date is June 1st 2017, or as soon as possible thereafter. The project is funded by RANNIS for a period of 3 years.

Additional information and application

You will be registered as a PhD student with the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. The working place is based at ÍSOR (Iceland GeoSurvey). For more information please contact Dr. Tobias Björn Weisenberger (email to
Applications should include a concise statement describing your motivation to do a PhD and work on this project, your CV, copies of your academic qualifications and names of two referees. The application should be submitted to

The application deadline is May 8, 2017.

Iceland GeoSurvey, (ÍSOR), is a self-financing, state-owned, non-profit institution. It receives no direct funding from the government and operates on a project and contract basis like a private company. Iceland GeoSurvey provides consulting, training, and scientific services to the Icelandic power industry, the Icelandic government and to numerous foreign companies and governments all over the world.

The University of Iceland is the largest teaching, research and science institute in the country. 360 people are employed in research and teaching at the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences. The School offers an international environment with the number of international employees and students increasing every year.