PhD Studentship Geo-chemical and Geo-mechanical Seabed Characterisation Using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

University of Southampton, UK is offering PhD position in spectroscopy. Candidates are welcome before December 31, 2018.

This industry funded Ph.D. will investigate methods to perform geo-chemical and geo-mechanical seabed observations for mineral prospecting and infrastructure planning using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) with landing capabilities.

It is now routine for AUVs to carry out tasks such as visual and acoustic seabed mapping from within a few metres of the seafloor. However, even though there have been significant advances in sensing capabilities (e.g. in-situ chemical analysis using plasma spectroscopy [1], scintillation [2] and geo-mechanical measurements of seafloor stiffness and friction [3]), many of these sensors require direct contact with the seafloor to make their measurements, which prevent them from being made autonomously, because present day AUVs cannot land.

This project will develop the intelligence required for an AUV to

recognise targets (e.g. sediments, mineral deposits) that can be safely and stably landed on using realtime generated high-resolution 3D visual imagery, and

land and verify that the sensors used remain in contact with the seafloor while analytical measurements are made.

The project will be a balance of theoretical and experimental work and is expected to involve participation in ocean research expeditions both in the UK and abroad. The project will suit candidates with strong analytical skills, experience with electronics and programming and an enthusiasm for hands on, practical fieldwork. The successful candidate will be working within the Fluid Structure Interaction Group of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, and the candidate will also involve work with collaborative partners at the Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Japan, and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, The University of Sydney, Australia and the industry sponsor (Sonardyne Int Ltd.).

Applicants for this Ph.D. are responsible for securing their own funding sources for both fees and stipend. Candidates must apply via:

Shortlisting of candidates and interviews will be held in July 2018. The intended start of this project is September 2018.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Blair Thornton, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 23 8059 7322

Applications are considered on a case by case basis, please can you make sure that you get your application in as soon as possible for the project if you are interested to avoid any disappointment.

This project is being run in participation with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Infrastructure Systems (View Website). For details of our 4 Year PhD programme and further projects, please see

To apply, please use the following website:


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