WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF is part of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and thus of the ETH Domain. WSL focuses on the sustainable use and protection of the environment and on the handling of natural hazards. WSL employs approximately 600 people, of whom 140 work at SLF in Davos.

The Chair of Alpine Mass Movements is part of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (D-BAUG) at ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL. We develop numerical models and experimental facilities to better understand the initiation and dynamics of alpine mass movements such as snow avalanches, debris flows and rockfalls. Our research contributes to improve risk assessment and management procedures related to gravitational mass movements in alpine regions and mitigate their impacts. We are looking for a
PhD student “Modeling Entrainment Mechanisms in Alpine Mass Movements” 100% (f/m/d)
Erosion and entrainment strongly affect the dynamics of alpine mass movements such as rock, ice or snow avalanches and debris flows. In rock avalanches, entrainment of saturated sediments during fast and undrained loading can lead to liquefaction thus enhancing flow mobility and possibly favoring debris flow initiation. Classical depth-averaged methods used in engineering rely on conceptual physical models and back-calculation to evaluate entrainment rates. On the other hand, 3D particle-based methods can hardly be systematically applied in practical and full-scale cases, but can contribute to unravel crucial micro and mesoscale mechanisms and can help to (in)validate, and parameterize existing entrainment laws or propose new ones. In this thesis, you will work with a coupled CFD-DEM model to investigate entrainment mechanisms in alpine mass movements. One important objective will be to decipher the influence of the saturation degree of the bed material on entrainment rates and ultimately on the flow mobility. Results will be implemented in a depth-averaged model evaluated based on the simulation of documented events. You will publish your results in high-ranked scientific journals, present them at international conferences and contribute to teaching at ETH Zurich.
You hold a MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering / Civil Engineering / Geomechanics / Geophysics or a related field. Experience with numerical modeling are desired. Ideally, you bring skills in constitutive modeling and soil mechanics with you. We encourage applications from enthusiastic and dedicated individuals who have very good oral and written communication skills in English. German or French knowledge is beneficial. You are motivated to work in an interdisciplinary and international working environment and you would enjoy living in a beautiful and varied mountain environment.

Please send your complete application to Clemens Güdel, Human Resources SLF, by uploading the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered. Prof. Johan Gaume, e-mail, will be happy to answer any questions or offer further information. The WSL strives to increase the proportion of women in its employment, which is why qualified women are particularly called upon to apply for this position.
Flüelastrasse 11, CH-7260 Davos Dorf