Thermal structure and evolution of Proterozoic sedimentary basins in Northern Australia – a numerical study

Modelling how sedimentary basins formed in the past


This PhD project is part of multi-disciplinary ARC linkage project that involves UWA, University of Sydney and Monash University, as well as industry partners. As a result the student will be working with experts across the three institutions as well as post-docs and other post-graduate students. The project will involve a two-month visit to Sydney University to work with Prof. Patrice Rey, and the team there.

In this project the student will use well-tested numerical geodynamic code – Underworld2 (2 and 3D) or I2VIS (2 and 3D). These are fully coupled thermomechanical code able to simulate elastic-plastic-viscous deformation (including power-law creep), the weakening effects of temperature, strain and melt, and the effect of melt on the geotherm through latent heat, as well as the effect of temperature on density (and buoyancy) through thermal expansivity.


Underworld2 has recently been coupled with Badlands – a state of the art landscape evolution code, that simulates surface changes at various space and time scales. Badlands is capable of simulating hillslope processes (diffusion), fluvial erosion (stream power law), sediment transport (sediment flux conservation) and deposition.

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will:

  • Establish parameter studies for numerical models, and interpret numerical models
  • Analyze numerical models against geological/geophysical/geochemical data from Northern Australia
  • Write simple routines in Python, Matlab or C to process the results of numerical models.


Research team leader: Dr Weronika Gorczyk 

I am a geodynamicist with experience in crustal and lithospheric scale modelling of variable tectonic settings. I have applied numerical modelling to verity of tectonic setting, including subductions and intraplate deformation. I have applied numerical modelling to understand different parts of the world in space and time.

The project is to be co-supervised by an inter-disciplinary team of excellent researchers.

Collaborations and Funding

  • The ARC linkage project is a collaboration between the CET at UWA, the State Government, Monash University, Sydney University and industry sponsors.
  • Project sponsorship is finalised. Scientific collaborators may contact research team leaders


  • This project is supported by the $2M, ARC linkage project Evolution of Proterozoic multistage rift basins – key to mineral systems. Funding awarded from 2020 to 2024.


How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • You will have a strong background in numerical geology or geophysics disciplines
  • You will be willing to learn quantitative numerical modelling methods.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.