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22-23. Geoelectromagnetic hazard science for modern society

Geoelectric fields induced in the Earth (either by magnetic storms or nuclear explosions) can adversely affect grounded power-transmission systems. A variety of data-based analyses can provide physically realistic estimates of related geoelectromagnetic hazards that inform projects of national importance.

Description of the Research Opportunity

Applications are invited for a Mendenhall post-doctoral fellowship involving topics summarized in the of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Geomagnetism Program's research plan (Love et al., 2020). Specific research topics might address one or more of the following subjects: (1) Analysis of ground magnetometer data geomagnetic monitoring data, including USGS observatory data and new variometer data, to characterize the temporal-geographic expression of storm-time geomagnetic disturbance, (2) Collection of new broad-band magnetotelluric survey data in the Eastern United States and the analysis of those data, in combination with ground magnetometer data, to evaluate and map regional magnetic-storm-induced geoelectric hazards, (3) Collection of new broad-band magnetotelluric survey data in the Eastern United States and the analysis of those data, in combination with simple models of late-phase E3 nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) variation, to evaluate regional nuclear-explosion hazards, (4) Development and improvement of magnetotelluric and joint inversion methods, (5) Statistical or event analysis of publicly available geomagnetically induced current data collected by power-grid companies, (6) Risk-related studies of storm-induced geoelectric hazards, impacts to electricity-transmission systems, and regional concentrations of transmission infrastructure and population density, (7) Analysis of historical data recording past great magnetic storms. Other relevant research topics can also be considered. 

The USGS Geomagnetism Program monitors geomagnetic field variation through the operation of a network of observatories and variometer stations across the United States and its territories, and it pursues scientific research into geomagnetic and geoelectric hazards. Geomagnetism Program research projects are consistent with national and agency priorities prescribed by the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow (PROSWIFT, 2020) Act that was signed into law on October 21, 2020, Executive Order 13744 on space weather (2016), and Executive Order 13865 on electromagnetic pulses (2019). Program research informs national projects for assessing the exposure of electricity-transmission systems to magnetic-storm hazards and improving the resilience of those systems. These projects are important for the security and economy of the United States. 

The strategic plan of the USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area is given by Holmes et al. (2013). 

Proposals should be accompanied by a work plan, notation of relevance to the mission and authorizations of the USGS, a general work schedule, and a budget covering needed travel (included to conferences), equipment, computers, deployment and operation of instruments, and/or field work as proposed. Magnetotelluric survey work (if proposed) would be done in collaboration with the USGS Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center in Denver. 

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas. 



Holmes, R. R., Jones, L. M., Eidenshink, J. C., Godt, J. W., Kirby, S. H., Love, J. J., Neal, C. A., Plant, N. G., Plunkett, M. L., Weaver, C. S., Wein, A. & Perry, S. C., 2013. U.S. Geological Survey Natural Hazards Science Strategy—Promoting the Safety, Security, and Economic Well-Being of the Nation, USGS Circular, 1383–F, 79 p.,

Love, J. J., Kelbert, A., Murphy, B. S., Rigler, E. J. & Lewis, K. A., 2020. Geomagnetism Program Research Plan, 2020–2024, USGS Circular 1469, 19 p.,


Proposed Duty Station(s)

Golden, Colorado 


Areas of PhD

Geophysics, Earth science, physics, space science, applied mathematics, statistics, engineering, economics or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to this research opportunity may be considered). 



Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications:  Research Geophysicist, Research Engineer, Research Statistician, Research Cartographer 

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)