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Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Wischhofstr. 1-3
24148 Kiel

Doctoral researcher (m/f/d) MarDATA-10 in Computer Science and Marine Data Science in the project “Links between volcanism and climate”

Deadline: July 25, 2021


GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel is a foundation of public law jointly financed by the Federal Republic of Germany (90 %) and the state of Schleswig-Holstein (10 %) and is one of the internationally leading institutions in the field of marine sciences. Currently GEOMAR disposes over an annual budget of approx. 80 million Euro and has approx. 1000 employees.

The research unit Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems of the research division Dynamics of the Ocean Floor is offering a position as

Doctoral researcher (m/f/d) MarDATA-10 in Computer Science and Marine Data Science in the project “Links between volcanism and climate”

preferably starting on September 1st, 2021.

The position offers the possibility to obtain a doctoral degree in mathematics as a member of the graduate school “Helmholtz School for Marine Data Science” (MarDATA), financed by the Helmholtz Association. MarDATA aims to define and educate a new type of “marine data scientists” by introducing and embedding researchers from computer sciences and mathematics into ocean sciences, covering a broad range from supercomputing and modelling, (bio)informatics, robotics, to statistics and big data methodologies. Education of doctoral researchers in joint block courses, international summer schools and colloquia goes beyond a single discipline towards genuine scientific insight into and a more systematic treatment of marine data. (https://www.mardata.de/)

Job description / project description

Short term climatic cooling caused by large volcanic eruptions has been experienced frequently in historical times. That climate changes may in turn trigger periods of increased volcanic activity is a recent and fascinating discovery. The recognition came from studies of glaciated regions, which demonstrated a significant increase after the last glaciation and from the analysis of sequences of dated volcanic ash (tephra) layers identified in marine sediments. A classical Fourier analysis of eruption pattern exhibits periods of ~100 kyr and/or ~40 kyr, which are Milankovitch periods that reflect orbital forcing of global climate.

Identification of periodicities in eruptions and their relation to climate change is of interest to understand fundamental geological processes but also to assess potential hazards linked to future global warming.

This is a joint research project of GEOMAR and the Department of Mathematics at Kiel University. The PhD student work will work at the interface between mathematics, volcanology and climate research, but have a focus on the statistical methodology.

The major research question of the PhD student will be to identify the statistical significance of different periodicities in volcanic eruption sequences and the correlation of the sequences with each other and with climate proxies.

The project will (1) focus on an advanced stochastic treatment beyond classical time series analysis that honors the fact that tephra time series are a categorical sequence (consisting of a 0/1 pattern corresponding to no or one eruption event within an age bin), (2) address particular shortcomings of the sequence (e.g., dating uncertainty and incompleteness), and (3) focus on a statistically sound regression analysis between a categorical time series with ‘ordinary’ continuous climate proxies. Typical unsupervised and supervised classification methodologies used in machine learning (ML) such as decision tree, clustering or random forest can be used to differentiate predictable (periodic) patterns in one tephra sequence and links between sequences from different locations and to climate proxies. These ML approaches shall be accompanied by and compared with methods from classical statistics, using regression and classification methods for categorical time series (e.g., Walsh windows).




  • Master’s degree (or equivalent) in mathematics or a related field by the beginning of the project, preferably with a focus on statistics.
  • ability to communicate fluently in spoken and written English


If the required degree is not completed at the time of application, the degree certificate must be handed in before the above start date of the contract and the application must contain plausible evidence that the degree can be finished before that date.



  • knowledge and interest in geology/volcanology/marine sciences
  • experience in time series analysis
  • experience of unsupervised and supervised classification methodologies used in machine learning (ML)
  • willingness to work in teams of the two research units and the MarDATA school
  • enjoy learning other fields of research


The position is available for a funding period until 36 months. The salary depends on qualification and could be up to the class E13 TVöD-Bund of the German tariff for public employees. This is a full-time position. The position cannot be split. Flexible working time models are generally possible. The fixed-term contract shall comply with Section 2 Paragraph 1 of The Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract (German WissZeitVG).

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel seeks to increase the proportion of female scientists and explicitly encourages qualified female academics to apply.

GEOMAR is an equal opportunity employer and encourages scientists with disabilities to apply. Qualified disabled applicants will receive preference in the application process.

Application Instructions

Please send your application for this post via email in a single pdf-file mentioning the keyword "MarDATA-Volcanism” in the subject line. Please send your application not later than July 25th, 2021 to the following email address:


As soon as the selection procedure has finished, all your application data will be removed according to data protection regulation.

For further information regarding the position and research unit please contact Dr. Julie Belo (jbelo(at)geomar.de) and Prof. Dr. Mathias Vetter (vetter(at)math.uni-kiel.de).

Please do not contact us by phone about the present state of procedures. However, we will answer all your questions if you send us an e-mail to bewerbung(at)geomar.de. In doing so, please refer to the keyword.

GEOMAR is a member of the Helmholtz Association and the German Marine Research Consortium (KDM). For further information please visit www.geomar.de or www.helmholtz.de.

GEOMAR is committed to an objective and non-discriminatory personnel selection. Our job advertisements address all people. We expressly renounce the submission of application photos.



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Contact Person
Dr. Julie Belo