Master thesis projects offered by CEED

CEED has several thesis projects within the centre’s research topics:

Deep Earth, Dynamic Earth, Earth Crises, Earth and Beyond, Earth Modelling and the Earth Laboratory, see presentations of the topics on our research pages.

The thesis projects are available to MSc students of the master programme in Geosciences. This programme is offered by the Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo. To become a MSc student at CEED you will need to apply through the regular 2-year MSc programme options of the Geosciences master programme.

All Master projects offered by the Department of Geosciences

If you are interested in pursuing one of the listed projects (see below) or have your own ideas along those lines, please approach the relevant contact person for advice on programme options and recommended courses, as early as possible.

Interested candidates are required to discuss and document their qualifications with the potential supervisor(s) and to write a short project proposal (max. 3 pages), subject to approval by CEED Director.


Master thesis project theme: Deep Earth materials and dynamics

Mineralogy and geochemistry of the lower mantle and core by atomistic simulationsrojects

Contact: Reidar Trønnes or Chris Mohn,  emails: r,g.tronnes (at); c.,e.mohn (at)

Understanding the evolution and dynamics of the deep Earth and other planets requires data on minerals, melts and fluids at very high pressures. Because experiments at very high pressure and temperature conditions are difficult, an alternative and invaluable route for obtaining such data is through atomistic simulations. For instance, atomistic calculations have been essential for insights into the core-mantle boundary region with pressure and temperature ranges of 100-140 GPa and 2500- 4000 K.  Atomistic computations have also provided constraints on the composition of the core, the mineralogy and phase relations in the mantle, the properties of melts and their evolution from a magma ocean until today, as well as the properties of exoplanets.   The access to large computational resources and appropriate molecular dynamics software, has made ab initio theoretical studies a very attractive approach during the last ten years. The computing power has increased to the point at which studies of phases with complex solid solutions are feasible.   Read more

Master thesis project theme: Earth & Beyond

Project 1: Photo-geological mapping of water and ice related landforms

Contact: Stephanie C. Werner, email: stephanie.werner (at)

Mars and Earth are similar with respect to their seasonal variations and the presence of water (at least in the Martian past). Plenty of landforms witness the action of water and water ice on both planets. We offer the opportunity to study fluvial, glacial or periglacial morphology on Mars and Earth in comparison.

This project will be based on building GIS data bases and satellite image interpretation.

Project 2: Photo-geological mapping of volcanic activity on terrestrial planets

Contact: Stephanie C. Werner, email: stephanie.werner (at)

For example Moon is considered to have preserved surfaces from the earliest period of planetary formation, but 17% of the surface experienced episodes of extensive volcanism. Work here can be related to evaluate the distribution and extent of such activity for Mercury.  Some mineralogical information is available as well. Temporal constraints can be gathered based on crater count statistics.

We offer a project which will be based on building GIS data bases and satellite image interpretation.

Project 3: Geophysical interpretation of terrestrial planets

Contact: Stephanie C. Werner and Tobias Rolf, email: stephanie.werner (at) / tobias.rolf (at)

Several options of projects related to mantle dynamic processes. These can be inferred from observations of the gravity field of a planet, but also crustal thickness and topography-gravity ratios, and can be used to study the upper layers of a planetary body. Especially, the moon was recently measured by the GRAIL mission and the resolution of this data set is increased so that detailed interpretation of topography and gravity field are possible. In this project, deviation of the predicted gravity-topography ratio will indicate subsurface density anomalies, which could be induced by material differences due to volcanic intrusions or “hidden” impact craters.

These projects will be based on building GIS data bases and image interpretation or can focus on numerical simulations.

Project 4: Numerical simulations of crater formation processes

Contact: Stephanie C. Werner, email: stephanie.werner (at)

Craters form on all planetary surfaces and are used to estimate the age of these surfaces. Many aspects including the crater formation process and crater-projectile scaling relations are unexplored, but are important to properly transfer the lunar chronology to other terrestrial planets (including the Earth). Target properties play a major role for the final size of small craters (diameter range 1 m to several 100 m). The task is to evaluate target structure and material properties for this crater range.

These projects will include numerical simulations, but also building GIS data bases and remote sensing image interpretation.


Master thesis project theme: Earth Crises

Project 1: Dikes and the sub-volcanic plumbing system in the Oslo Rift

Contact: Sara Calelgaro, Henrik Svensen, Dougal Jerram,  email henrik.svensen (at)

The sedimentary rocks, the plutons, and the volcanic rocks in the Oslo Rift are intruded by numerous dikes. The dikes are present in large numbers in most areas in the rift, and likely fed som of the present day outcropping flood basalt. However, the role of the dikes as feeders, have never been investigated in detail. For instance, the dikes may have fed lavas not longer outcropping, and may thus provide important information about the long term evolution of the rift.

We offer a master project that involves detailed mapping and fieldwork in 2-3 selected areas across the rift. Methods will include detailed field investigations and builing of 3D outcrop models, major and trace element geochemistry, and petrographic studied using electron microscope.

Background needed: geology, petrology, geochemistry

Project 2: A new way to estimate volcanic eruption magnitudes from tephra deposits?

Contacts: Morgan Jones, email: m.t.jones (at) and Lars Augland, email: larseau23 (at)

This aim is to test an influential theory of volcanic eruptions by Carey and Sparks (1986) using volcanic ash from a huge eruption from Hekla, Iceland in 3000 BP. Their theoretical model links maximum clast sizes found in tephra deposits with the size of the eruption plume. The project would explore whether this theory also works for individual crystals, using an extensive dataset from a Hekla eruption and other key ashes from the North Atlantic Igneous Province. Activities will include: Field work to Iceland; Laboratory separations of crystals; mineral geochemistry (e.g. Hf isotopic analysis); application of theoretical physics.

Project 3: 3D seismic imaging and nature of Seaward Dipping Reflections (SDRs) on rifted margins

Contact: Sverre Planke, Dougal Jerram, Henrik Svensen, email: henrik.svensen (at)

Aim: New understanding of the geometry and nature of the main phase of volcanism offshore Norway 56 million years ago.

The main volume of breakup-related volcanic rocks are present in SDRs. However, only the upper part has been drilled (Vøring, SE Greenland) and thus the geology is not well constrained. New 3D seismic data can help us understand the volcanology better.

Methods and tasks include: Map and characterize SDRs in 3D volume(s) on the Vøring Margin, tie to wells (642, NPD, and others), volcanological interpretation, synthetic seismogram modeling, and global comparison of Inner and Outer SDRs.

Background needed: Seismic interpretation. Seismic wave theory. Computer usage.


Project 4: Formation of enigmatic degassing pipes in the Siberian Traps, East Siberia

Contact: Henrik Svensen, email: henrik.svensen (at)

The Tunguska Basin in East Siberia was affected by the Siberian Traps Large igneous province. In the upper parts of the basin stratigraphy, enigmatic pipes filled with garnets and other minerals are found in some areas. The pipes are sometimes referred to as ‘skarn pipes’. We have a sample collection in Oslo from one of these pipes, and this project aims at constraining the mineralogy of the samples in order to understand the pipe formation. This is relevant for: 1. Metamorphism, 2. Paleoclimate , 3. Geochemistry.

Project 5: Origin of volcanic ash in the Siberian Traps lava pile

Contact: Henrik Svensen, email: henrik.svensen (at)

In the Siberian Traps Large igneous province, several kilometers of lava stratigraphy is preserved. In general, there is little volcanic ash between the lava flows. However, locally we find thick deposits of ash. We have borehole samples of ash from the lava pile near Norilsk and this project will aim at characterizing one of the thickest ash layers. The overall question is to find out what type of eruption the ash came from. This is relevant for: 1. Volcanism, 2. Paleoclimate , 3. Sedimentary basins. Activities: 1. Volcanological interpretations,  2. Mineralogy and petrography, 3. Geochemistry.

Project 6: Characterising the Lusi eruption plumbing system based on erupted clasts

Contact: Adriano Mazzini, email: adriano.mazzinil (at)

The spectacular Lusi mud-eruption started in northeast Java on May the 29th 2006 following a 6.3 M earthquake. Since then it never stopped spewing boiling mud, water and gas. Despite extensive research, the origin of the erupted solid material remains elusive and poorly constrained. The project will focus on the petrographic and geochemical characterization of a large collection of mud breccia clasts collected from the crater zone. This will constrain the anatomy of the Lusi plumbing system and its roots.


Master thesis project theme: Earth Modelling

Note, for all Earth Modelling projects, some experience in linux/unix/programming is desirable

Project 1: Impact of mineral grain size and anisotropy on tectonic plate motions

Contact: Clinton P. Conrad. e-mail: c.p.conrad at)

The asthenosphere is a low-viscosity layer that lies beneath the tectonic plates; its presence facilitates plate motions. The viscosity of the asthenosphere depends on the rheological properties of the individual mineral grains that compose its rocks – and these mineral grains can change orientation, and grow or shrink in size, depending on the ambient stresses and the deformation history of the asthenosphere. This project will combine numerical models with observations from rock deformation experiments to understand the dynamical link between plate motions and asthenospheric rheology.

Learning outcomes: Students can expect to gain an understanding of ductile deformation of rocks and experience with numerical modelling techniques, and should expect to publish their results in a scientific journal.

Project 2: Water cycling between Earth’s surface and mantle over supercontinental timescales

Contact: Clinton P. Conrad. e-mail: c.p.conrad at)

Subduction of hydrated minerals is thought to transfer enough water into Earth’s interior to lower sea level by up to 1 meter per million years. Much of this water loss is balanced by mantle degassing along mid-ocean ridges, but the rate of degassing may change with time during the supercontinental cycle. Thus, the rate of water exchange between Earth’s surface environment and its deep interior may change as supercontinents form and disperse, which affects the distribution of water within Earth’s interior and the convective patterns that occur there. This project will use analytical and numerical models of large-scale mantle flow to understand the impact of water cycling on the supercontinental cycle and the long-term history of our planet.

Learning outcomes: Students can expect to gain an understanding of the fluid dynamics of mantle convection and experience with numerical modelling techniques, and should expect to publish their results in a scientific journal.


Master thesis project theme: Earth Laboratory

Currently there are no specific projects designed, however, in case you are interested in working with rock magnetic of paleomagnetic data, or you are interested in learning advanced techniques of rock and mineral magnetism, get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art magnetometry instruments at the Ivar Giæver Geomagnetic Laboratory at CEED, want to be able to interpret magnetic data in the context of paleogeography and rock-forming processes, and become familiar with useful techniques of directional statistics, take contact with Pavel V. Doubrovine, email: paveld (at)


Master thesis project theme: Dynamic Earth

Project 1: Exotic terranes in the Scandinavian Caledonides

Contact: Susanne Buiter and Torgeir B. Andersen, email: susanne.buiter (at) / t.b.andersen (at)

This project proposes to look at the fate of exotic terranes in subduction zones. Do island arcs, oceanic plateaus, and microcontinents subduct or accrete? We will combine geodynamic models with interpretations of geological observations and seismic constraints. The numerical models will build on Tetreault and Buiter (2012, Geodynamic models of terrane accretion: Testing the fate of island arcs, oceanic plateaus, and continental fragments in subduction zones, Journal of Geophysical Research 117, B08403, doi: 10.1029/2012JB009316). The new models will test different scenarios of terrane-continent convergence in the Norway-Greenland collision system. Specific questions to address could include how terrane accretion could have occurred in the Scandinavian Caledonide Mountains and how much of the terranes are preserved in the Caledonian nappes.

Project 2: Origin and tectonic significance of meta-peridotites, clastic meta-peridotites and associated rocks north of Lesja central south Norway

Contact: Torgeir B. Andersen and Johannes Jakob, emails:  t.b.andersen (at) / johannes.jakob (at)

The mountain area between Aursjøen and Lesja near Dovre in central south Norway has a large complex of metamorphosed ultramafic and mafic rocks associated with metasedimentary rocks including clastic meta-peridotites. This association of rocks is also known to exist at low structural levels along the Western Gneiss Complex across South Norway all the way to the Bergen area. The Lesja area is little studied and only provisional geological maps are available. This master project will include mapping in a relatively high mountain terrain main. The mapping and sampling of this complex rock association will be used as a basis for a first interpretation of the structure and regional tectonic significance and origin of these rocks. A comprehensive sampling and the following lab-work will include detailed petrography and metamorphic studies coupled with radiometric dating. The student in this project must like and be able to carry out field work in relatively demanding mountain-terrain. The studies will be conducted at CEED-Dynamic Earth/Margins and Orogeny under the NFR financed project: Hyperextension in magma-poor and magma-rich domains along the pre-Caledonian passive margin of Baltica.

Project 3: Origin and tectonic significance of a mixed meta-peridotite and meta-sedimentary complex between the Jotun nappe and the Western Gneiss Complex near Sogndal, Western Norway

A Master Project for 2 students

Contact: Johannes Jakob, mail:  johannes.jakob (at), Deta Gasser and Thomas Scheiber, University College Sogndal, Torgeir B- Andersen, mail: t.b.andersen (at) geo

A melange (mixed) unit of rocks has been mapped at low structural levels above the Western Gneiss Complex across South Norway all the way from the Bergen area towards Otta and beyond. The typical feature of the melange is that it consists of meta-peridotites mixed with original sediments and sheets of ancient gneisses. In the mountains north-west of Sogndal two major meta-peridotite bodies have been identified in a reconnaissance study but their lithological, structural and metamorphic setting is unknown so far.

With these two master projects we would like to find out:

1. What are the exact lithologies (mafic vs. ultramafic) and metamorphic alterations in these two bodies? This requires detailed field mapping of the two bodies (ca. 0.6x0.6km and 0.2x0.2km) and their contact relationships with the wall rocks as well as petrological and geochemical investigations.

2. The second project involves detailed and kilometre scale mapping to answer: What are the surrounding metasedimentary rocks, type, structures, metamorphic grade and depositional age? This study requires mapping on a bigger scale as well as detrital zircon geochronology, which is crucial to unravel the Neoproterozoic vs. Paleozoic part of the history.  

The studies will be conducted at CEED-Dynamic Earth/Margins and Orogeny under the NFR financed project: Hyperextension in magma-poor and magma-rich domains along the pre-Caledonian passive margin of Baltica. Extended period at Sogndal UC may also be required.

Project 4: Lithosphere dynamics in the North Atlantic region constrained by satellite gravity gradient data

Contact: Alexander Minakov, email: alexander.minakov (at)

The master student will work with recently acquired GOCE satellite gravity gradient data and GRACE gravity data. The project will include processing, modelling, and data interpretation. The interpretation will help better understand present-day mantle dynamics in the North Atlantic region and processes related to glacial isostatic adjustment following the last glaciation. The student will work on implementation of forward and inverse modeling of gravity and gravity gradient data in spherical coordinates. It is expected that the master student is motivated/enjoys MATLAB/Python Programming.

Project 5: Satellite Gravity Data and Lithospheric Stresses

Contact: Alexander Minakov,  email: alexander.minakov (at)

Recent satellite geodetic and gravity data by the European Space Agency (ESA) GOCE mission combined with land and airborne gravity measurements provide unique information that can be linked to properties of the Earth interior.

The task is to put theoretical basis and quantify these links to reveal the density structure of the crust and upper mantle and to map lithospheric stresses. The data will be analyzed in selected case study regions and results will be tested by other geophysical methods and published models (North Atlantic, Western US, East Africa and Western Indian Ocean).

This master project is a part of large international project and will be performed in a close collaboration with ESA.

Project 6: Observations of core phases at Troll, Droning Maud Land, Antarctica

Contact: Johannes Schweitzer,  email: johannes.schweitzer (at)

The recently installed broadband station TROLL records the different seismic core phases with unusual high frequency content. Frequency depended relative measurements between these phases (travel times and amplitudes) can be used to investigate the seismic velocity- and Q-structure in the core by comparing the observations with theoretical seismograms. Data from the nearby located South-African seismic station SNAA will also be used. The location of the seismic stations allows in particular the investigation of the core structure in north-south direction, which should be systematically different if ideas about the anisotropy of the inner core are correct.

Learning outcome: experience in seismogram interpretation, digital signal processing and calculation of theoretical seismograms, new knowledge about the deep structure of the Earth

Project 7: Analysis of seismic profile shots at permanent seismic stations to investigate the crustal structure in and around the Barents Sea

Contact: Johannes Schweitzer,  email: johannes.schweitzer (at)

A large number of commercial and scientific seismic reflection and refraction profiles have been shot in and around the Barents Sea during the last decades. Many of the airgun-shots along these profiles were also observed with permanent seismic stations and arrays in the region. A systematic analysis of such observations with data stacking techniques (source and receiver beams, slant-stack) and forward modelling will result in new knowledge about the velocity structure of the lower crust, Moho and upper mantle in the whole region.

Learning outcome: experience in digital signal processing, seismogram interpretation and theoretical seismology, deepened knowledge about the 3D structure of the Barents Sea

Project 8: S-receiver function analysis for seismic stations in the Arctic and Antarctica

Contact: Johannes Schweitzer,  email: johannes.schweitzer (at)

Analysis of receiver functions is a well-established method to investigate seismic velocities and seismic discontinuities below and nearby seismic stations. In particular S-receiver functions can be used to map the LAB (Lithosphere-Asthenosphere-Boundary), which is an important parameter for understanding geodynamics and plate tectonics. This study will focus on selected seismic stations in the Polar Regions. Depending on interest and work progress, the study can be extended by analysis of P-receiver functions or the investigation of other discontinuities in the upper mantle transition zone.

Learning outcome: experience in seismogram interpretation, digital signal processing and theoretical seismology, better knowledge about the structure of lithosphere and upper mantle in the Polar Regions

Project 9: The early sills in the evolution of the Oslo graben

Contact: Ferando Corfu,  Bjørn T. Larsen, email: Fernando.corfu (at),

The project concerns the problems dealing with the early sills in the evolution of the Oslo Graben. The theme is flexible and the research could be adapted to the interest of  the student to some degree. The work will involve geochronology, field work, possibly geochemistry in Oslo Graben: mænaite sills.

Project 10: A catalogue of the North Atlantic seamounts based on geophysical and geochemical data

Contact: Carmen Gaina, email: Carmen.gaina (at),

The ocean floor is littered with volcanoes. Their topography and volcanic activity contribute to the local and regional ocean habitat. Seamount volcanism is attributed to magmatic processes connected to the formation of new ocean floor/oceanic crust (seafloor spreading), or to the modification of this crust by subsequent intra-plate volcanism. This project aims to build a detailed catalogue of the North Atlantic seamounts based on geophysical and geochemical data. The student will become familiar with various geophysical data and techniques to derive the age and possibly the formation mechanisms of seamounts.


Welcome to apply for doing a CEED-project master thesis!

Published Oct. 16, 2015 3:17 PM - Last modified Nov. 8, 2018 1:25 PM