Thread: PhD projects in New Zealand: Application Deadline 1 March

Started: 2017-02-10 00:19:24
Last activity: 2017-02-10 00:19:24
PhD students are sought to work on several seismological and geophysical topics in the School of Geography, Environment, and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW; The geophysics group at Victoria University of Wellington has an established track record of research in seismology, tectonics, crustal geophysics, and structural geology, and most PhD projects involve a component of fieldwork somewhere exciting and close collaboration with GNS Science or other New Zealand research organisations.

In the most recent Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) evaluation, Victoria University of Wellington was ranked first in New Zealand for research excellence and was also ranked first in New Zealand in Earth Sciences.

Structure and seismogenesis of the subduction thrust, Eastern North Island , New Zealand. Two-Three PhDs

New Zealand is under continuous threat of earthquakes and Tsunami. One of the regions with most risk is eastern North Island as immediately offshore is an active subduction zone. Major historical earthquakes > magnitude 7 have occurred near Napier and Wairoa, and a Tsunami was experience near Gisborne in 1947. Most of the earthquakes are generated at or above the so called subduction thrust: this is the boundary between the downward plunging Pacific tectonic plate and the overriding Australian plate. These PhD studies will be directed to imaging and understanding the structure and mechanical conditions at this interface and its relation to upper-plate faulting. Methods used will be active source seismology using on onshore seismometers to record offshore airgun shots from a dedicated seismic ship. This will involve analysis of wide angle seismic reflection data, refraction data and computer based ray tracing. Earthquake data will also be recorded on an array of seismographs on land. Analysis of these data could involve one or a combination of: focal mechanism studies, receiver functions, double–difference location methods, and shear wave splitting analysis. The students will be involved in the land based deployment and maintenance of seismic instruments.

The project will also involve analysis of SAHKE onshore offshore data from the eastern North Island that were recorded in 2011 but have yet to be analysed. Finally, Earthquake data recorded during and after the 2013 Cook Strait earthquake sequence and the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake will be analysed to determine the structure of the region and whether time variations in seismic velocity or stress can be observed.

The northern projects are part of international collaboration between NZ the USA and Japan called SHIRE (Seismogenesis at Hikurangi Integrated Research Experiment), and involves a wide range of geophysical and geological experiments including drilling, ocean bottom seismology and paleoseismology. SHIRE is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF-USA) and MBIE in New Zealand. A NSF seismic ship will be coming to NZ and be devoted to this project for several months starting in December 2017. The Cook Strait-Kaikoura project is also an international collaboration.

The next deadline for PhD scholarship applications is 1 March 2017 in New Zealand: successful scholarship applicants receive a NZ$23,500 stipend and all tuition fee payments for a term of three years. Students should have completed an MSc degree prior to commencing study: competition for scholarships is fierce, and successful applicants will likely have high undergraduate GPAs in one or more of mathematics, physics, geology, or geophysics, and, ideally, a track record of peer-reviewed publications commensurate with experience.

Full details regarding the application process are available from the Faculty of Graduate Research at

Students wishing to apply should also contact Martha Savage (martha.savage<at>, to discuss project options.

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