Project 11. Developing coupled carbonate dissolution/precipitation reactions for toxic metal immobilization

Primary Employer: CNRS- Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse, France

PhD Programme: University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France (3 years)

An effective method for the immobilisation of toxic metals involves coupling the dissolution of calcium carbonate to the precipitation of carbonate minerals containing toxic elements, such as Cd, Ni, and Pb. This process will be quantified through mixed-flow reactor experiments where calcium carbonate is introduced into the reactor as calcite, aragonite, or shell fragments and toxic metals are passed in the fluid phase. Reaction progress will be monitored from measured fluid compositions determined from ICPMS, atomic adsorption spectroscopy, and colorimetry, while mechanisms will be verified through the application of surface techniques including scanning electron microscopy and infrared spectroscopy. The effects on the isotopes of Cd, Ni, Pb, Sr, and Mg will be determined to devise fingerprints for monitoring this process under natural conditions. This work will generate a fundamental and general description of this coupled process that can be used to predict the behaviour of toxic elements in natural and industrial systems. The ESR will be enrolled in the Toulouse PhD programme. Precipitation experiments will be done at Toulouse, and stable isotope measurements at an isotope analysis lab. It is anticipated that natural processes will be studied at the SKB site in Sweden, where samples from cores will be used, and transport modelling will be done with a modelling lab.

Employment and eligibility

The PhD candidate will be based in Toulouse for a three year employment period and enrolled at University Paul Sabatier. The researcher will hold a MetTrans contract for 3 years.

Applicants must hold a degree in Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, or other relevant field.

As required by European Commission Marie Curie Training Network regulations, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, applicants must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers (since the time of undergraduate degree or equivalent). Also, applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) in France for more than 12 months in the last 3 years.

For further information regarding the position, send an email to Eric Oelkers. Information about the department can be found at


Applications must be in English and include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, certificates of examination results according to the requirements listed above, and two reference letters.

Female and minority applicants are encouraged to apply.

Applications in electronic format are preferred. The deadline for the first round of applications is March 30, 2012.