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A framework for modelling groundwater flow in deep heterolithic sedimentary sequences


   Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London

Supervisor(s): Prof Adrian Butler (IC), Dr James Lawrence (IC) and Prof Matt Jackson (IC)

Sponsor(s): Nuclear Waste Services (formerly Radioactive Waste Management)

Energy security and climate change are two of the most import challenges of the 21st century. Nuclear energy and the safe disposal of radioactive waste will play a key role in meeting these challenges. Numerate geoscientists are needed to help manage the risk associated with the deep disposal of radioactive material. This will be achieved using an underground Geological Deposal Facility (GDF), which is based on the multiple barrier concept. One of these barriers is the geosphere or the geological environment of the host and surrounding rock formations. Therefore, understanding the movement of groundwater in these formations and its effect on radionuclide transport is vital to the development of operational and postclosure safety cases.

The Mercia Mudstone Group (MMG) is currently being considered as a potential host rock for a GDF. This formation, however, has not been investigated to the same extent as other potential host rocks. There is a need, therefore, to develop hydrogeological models of the MMG and adjacent rocks in the North East Irish Sea Basin (NEISB). This will be the focus of the PhD, which will use data collection to construct a conceptual 3D stratigraphic ground model. This, in turn, will be converted into a dynamic numerical model using the Imperial College Finite Element Reservoir Simulator (IC-FERST www.imperial.ac.uk/earth-science/research/research-groups/norms/software/ic-ferst/). This state-of-the-art numerical code will be used to explore the controls on groundwater flow in the context of radionuclide movement, along with the effects of data uncertainty under current and near future climates.

Essential candidate background/skills:  

A first class or good 2:1 honours degree in a geoscience or engineering or an equivalent discipline. The candidate should have a strong maths capability and a desire to understand rock properties and their controls on groundwater flow.

Desirable candidate background/skills: 

A knowledge of hydrogeology and sedimentology, combined with understanding of specific laboratory testing. Some knowledge in coding (esp. python or matlab) would also be advantageous.

How to apply:

Applicants wishing to be considered for this opportunity should email their current CV to Dr James Lawrence () in the first instance, detailing their academic record and supplying degree transcripts where appropriate.


Funding Notes

Full funding is available for home students including home tuition fees, a UKRI minimum stipend, and a research consumables budget. The start date of the PhD position is 1 October 2023.

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