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Research Associate Position for NERC project “GWatt – Geothermal PoWer GenerATed from UK GraniTes” (IRC22751)

Research Associate Position for NERC project “GWatt – Geothermal PoWer GenerATed from UK GraniTes” (IRC22751)


Heriot-Watt University

You will join the GWatt project, which is a NERC funded project (“GWatt – Geothermal PoWer GenerATed from UK GraniTes”) with 7 partners from academia and industry and coordinated by the British Geological Survey. This position is based at the Lyell Centre with strong links to the Institute of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University.

The School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society
The School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS) is one of the UK’s leading institutions for multidisciplinary research and teaching in areas critical to economic development and societal equity. We aim to attain excellence in the teaching of the core disciplines that contribute to a sustainable, resource and energy-efficient society and are committed to undertaking high value, high impact research and knowledge transfer in topics of relevance to global challenges. Further information can be obtained at

The Lyell centre
Heriot-Watt University and the British Geological Survey (BGS) have joined forces to create a new research centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology. Based at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh Campus, the Lyell Centre will be one of Europe’s leading centres for research and expertise in the earth and marine sciences. Jointly funded by UK and Scottish funders; Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Heriot-Watt, The Lyell Centre will promote innovative research at the core of geoscience, marine and terrestrial ecology, computing, mathematics and engineering.


Edinburgh, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


Relevant divisions
Energy, Resources and the Environment (ERE)
Geodynamics (GD)
Seismology (SM)

Full time


40327 € / Year, equivalent to £36,261

Required education

Application deadline
8 August 2019

10 July 2019

Job description

Project Title: “Experimental determination of fault frictional and transport properties in a deep geothermal setting”
GWatt is funded through NERC (Highlight Topics 2018) and has a total duration of 42 months. GWatt aims to tackle challenges related to deep geothermal systems, focussing on knowledge gaps about permeability and fluid/heat flow within fractured hot rocks. Novel studies of rock stress, natural fracture networks, hot rock permeability, heat/fluid transport, and optimisation are performed to fill these gaps. This project helps to enable the prediction of the economically-utilisable geothermal resource, the optimisation of reservoir development and the quantification of geological uncertainty and geological risks (such as induced seismicity). GWatt utilises data obtained from two new boreholes in granite being developed at the UK’s deepest onshore geothermal project at United Downs in Cornwall.

The specific task at HWU are funded for 18 months and will focus on the evaluation of the frictional and transport properties of granite fault rocks in a deep geothermal setting, over the lifetime of the well. This will be done via laboratory experiments using natural granite fault materials. The experiments are aimed at providing insight into the risk of induced seismicity and the efficiency of fluid/heat flow in the well.

Key duties and responsibilities
Key duties and responsibilities of the role holder include, but are not limited to

  • Experimentally determine frictional properties of granite fault materials
  • Experimentally determine fault rock permeability
  • Contribute to qualitative and quantitative risk assessment for induced seismicity
  • Present research results at conferences and internal project meetings
  • Publish peer-reviewed and conference papers

Education, qualifications and experience

  • An undergraduate degree (2.1 or higher) in geoscience, petroleum or civil engineering
  • A PhD in Earth sciences, including but not limited to experimental rock deformation, rock physics, geophysics or related topic.


  • Expert in experimental rock deformation
  • Experience in design of experimental setups under subsurface reservoir conditions
  • Strong publication track record
  • Team spirit and experience in collaborating within interdisciplinary and multi-national teams
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • Experience in working towards tight deadlines
  • Experience in conducting independent research


  • Experience in performing friction experiments
  • Experience in performing permeability measurements
  • Experience in microstructural analysis
  • Willingness to travel to project meetings in Europe

How to apply

To register and apply please go to

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr. Sabine den Hartog (