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Numerical simulation of deformation processes, transport and reactions in metamorphic rocks

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E Gomez-Rivas
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Geologists use fabrics and microstructures in deformed rocks to understand the evolution of the lithosphere and specially to unravel the processes associated with mountain building. Rock deformation often occurs in environments where pressure and temperature are not constant and where fluid flow enhances metamorphic/diagenetic reactions. These reactions lead to phase transformations and changes in the physical properties of rocks that in turn control the active deformation processes. It is therefore essential that we are able to understand the coupled effects of rock deformation, transport of elements and reactions, in order to properly use microstructures for predicting the rheological evolution of the lithosphere. A major handicap is that there are no numerical approaches able to simulate microstructure evolution linking these processes. This PhD project aims to develop microdynamic numerical simulations that couple deformation mechanisms (i.e. viscous/viscoplastic deformation and recrystallisation) with transport of chemical components (by diffusion and reactive fluid flow) and, eventually, mineral reactions. We will further develop processes within the open-source ELLE numerical modelling software platform ( A variety of codes will be used, including FFT (a full-field code that simulates viscoplastic deformation by dislocation glide), BASIL (a finite element model for non-linear viscous deformation), and a set of processes within the ELLE software platform, including finite difference methods to model fluid flow and diffusion and front-tracking codes for recrystallisation, among others. The student will achieve a high level of independent competence in a range of techniques, especially in numerical modelling of geologic processes, structural analysis and geochemistry.

Essential Background: Equivalent of 2.1 Honours Degree in Geology, Physics, Engineering, Maths

Knowledge of: numerical simulation of deformation processes and/or fluid flow (methods such as Finite Element, Finite Difference, Discrete Element, Front Tracking, etc.). Good knowledge of programming languages (such as C++, Fortran, Matlab, etc.) is highly desirable.

The other supervisor on this project is Dr. Albert Griera (Autonomous University of Barcelona)

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting There is NO funding attached to this project. You can find details of living costs and the like by visiting


Bons, P.D., Koehn, D. and Jessell, M.W. (Eds). 2008. Microdynamics Simulation. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences 106. Springer-Verlag.

Griera, A., Llorens, M-.G., Gomez-Rivas, E., Bons, P.D., Jessell, M.W., Evans, L.A. and Lebensohn, R. 2013. Numerical modelling of porphyroclast and porphyroblast rotation in anisotropic rocks. Tectonophysics, 587, 4-29.

Llorens, M-.G., Bons, P.D., Griera, A., Gomez-Rivas, E. and Evans, L.A. 2013. Single layer folding in simple shear. Journal of Structural Geology, 50, 209-220.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Geology and Petroleum Geology. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Geology, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr E Gomez-Rivas ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

How good is research at Aberdeen University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.40

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