Dr. Gilles Erkens is a quaternary geologist working as a researcher on delta and river systems. He is a specialist on Holocene delta and river system development, peat classification and subsidence. His 15 years’ experience is derived from research both in The Netherlands and abroad. He has worked as a field-geologist on the impact of humans on lowlands, ranging from prehistoric deforestations to subsidence resulting from groundwater extraction. His work has a strong scientific basis and he works mainly on projects that bridge the gap between basic and applied research. The uptake of research results in policy or decision making is of particular importance to him.
At Deltares Research Institute, he specializes further on the subject of subsidence, foremost on the contribution of oxidation and compaction of peat on land level lowering. On the latter topic, he wrote, among other things, a new classification scheme for peat and organic clays and improved the national subsidence maps of The Netherlands. Dr. Erkens is now the chair of the subsidence team at Deltares Research Institute. In this team he is continuing his work on measuring, modeling and understanding different components of land subsidence. Specific attention has gone into improving the subsidence algorithms and measuring soil mechanical properties in the lab. Addressing finance and governance related issues associated with subsidence are one of the main goals of the team. The ultimate ambition of the team is to be able to provide policy makers and decision-makers with the evidence-based information they need to make (difficult) decisions regarding subsidence.
Outreach is particularly important for Dr. Erkens, as he enjoys telling the subsidence story to non-experts. He has contributed to over 250 news items, ranging from TV and radio interviews, to contributions to web-content. These include contributions to news organizations such as the BBC, The Economist, National Geographic, TRT, The Guardian, Lloyd’s, The Huffington Post, The Strait Times, and Der Spiegel.
|2014 - present||Deltares||Senior geologist and subsidence expert|
|2014- present||Department of Physical Geography at Utrecht University||part-time assistant professor (adjunct) subsidence and delta systems|
|2011 - 2014||Deltares||Geologist and subsidence researcher|
|2010 - 2014||Department of Physical Geography at Utrecht University||Guest researcher Delta stratigraphy and subsidence Netherlands|
|2010 - 2011||TNO - Geological Survey of the Netherlands Deltares||Researcher peat dynamics and classifications Netherlands|
|2008 - 2010||Utrecht University and Deltares||Post-doctoral researcher long-term carbon dynamics and subsidence Netherlands|
|2003 - 2007||Department of Physical Geography at Utrecht University||PhD-candidate Holocene sediment dynamics in the Rhine catchment Netherlands|
|2002 - 2002||Department of Quaternary Geology & Geomorphology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam||Research assistant|
|2002 - 2002||Amsterdam municipal company for water supply||Field assistant Netherlands|
Archeological Prospection of the Embanked Floodplains
Rhine-Meuse Delta, The Netherlands, 2012-2016
Positions held: Project leader
Main project features: Automated mapping of archeological prospection of archaeology in the embanked floodplains of the Netherlands.
Activities performed: project management, financial budgeting, human resources, client contacts, geological analyses.
National subsidence map for The Netherlands
The Netherlands, 2017
Positions held: project leader and principal investigator
Main project features: Forecasting different subsidence components in The Netherlands
Activities performed: data collecting, GIS analyses, report writing, project management.
Uncontrolled seepage and boil formation in the Middelburg-Tempelpolder
Western Rhine-Meuse Delta, The Netherlands, 2017 - present
Positions held: project manager, principle investigator
Main project features: predicting current and future uncontrolled seepage in a subsiding polder
Activities performed: field data collecting, geological analyses, report writing, project management.
Uncontrolled seepage and boil formation in the Province of South-Holland
Province of Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands, 2016-present
Positions held: project manager, principle investigator
Main project features: predicting current and future uncontrolled seepage in the province of South-Holland, by combing results from a subsidence model with a groundwater model
Activities performed: forming conceptual idea, project set-up, subsidence calculations, geological analyses, co-organising a workshop, report writing, project management.
Subsidence analyses of Kalimantan peatlands
Kalimantan, Indonesia, 2012 - 2013
Positions held: subsidence researcher
Main project features: Field analyses of subsidence in recently cultivated peatlands for KFCP, AusAID (Australian government)
Activities performed: Field data collecting, analysing field data, co-writing (conference) papers, co-organising a workshop for the local government.
Subsidence analyses of the New Orleans urban area
New Orleans, United States, 2012 - 2016
Positions held: subsidence researcher
Main project features: Analyses of subsidence components in the city of New Orleans for Waggonner & Ball Architects
Activities performed: field data collecting, identifying components in total subsidence signal, calculating future subsidence rates, co-organising a workshop for the local government.
Markermeer dyke stability
North-Holland, The Netherlands, 2011-2012
Positions held: researcher, geologist
Main project features: Analyses of impact of peat in the subsurface on dyke stability for North-Holland Waterboard, composition of a new peat classification scheme
Activities performed: Peat classification, sampling in the field, lab work, report writing
Team Subsidence Deltares
The Netherlands, 2011 - present
Positions held: Programme leader
Main project features: organising subsidence work at Deltares
Activities performed: setting up subsidence research program, management of subsidence research and marketing activities, writing project proposals.
Inventory of peat knowledge in The Netherlands
The Netherlands, 2010 - 2011
Positions held: Project manager, principal investigator
Main project features: Inventory of all knowledge on peat deposits in the shallow part of the Dutch subsurface and recommendation for future research for the Dutch Geological Survey
Activities performed: Interviewing, data collecting, report writing.
A retrospective observatory of an archaeological society
Rhine Valley, Germany, 2010-2014
Main project features: The trajectory of the LBK Neolithic within the Atlantic (fluvial) environment for the French National Research Agency
Activities performed: Explorative field work, core collecting in the field, core description, lab analyses, data analyses, report writing.
The relative contribution of peat compaction and oxidation to subsidence in built-up areas in the Rhine-Meuse delta, The Netherlands.
Van Asselen, S., Erkens, G., Stouthamer, E., Woolderink, H.A.G., Geeraert, R.E.E., Hefting, M.M. (2018). Science of the Total Environment 636 177-191.
Impacts of 25 years of groundwater extraction on subsidence in the Mekong delta, Vietnam.
Minderhoud, P.S.J., Erkens, G., Pham, V.H., Bui, V.T., Erban, L., Kooi, H., Stouthamer, E. (2006). Environmental Research Letters 12 (6) #064006
Double trouble: Subsidence and CO2 respiration due to 1,000 years of Dutch coastal peatland cultivation.
Erkens, G., Van der Meulen, M.J., Middelkoop, H. (2016). Hydrogeology Journal 24 (3) 551-568
Global risks and research priorities for coastal subsidence.
Allison, M., Yuill, B., Törnqvist, T., Amelung, F., Dixon, T.H., Erkens, G., Stuurman, R., Jones, C., Milne, G., Steckler, M., Syvitski, J., Teatini P. (2016). Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union 97(19) 22-27
: A new soil mechanics approach to quantify and predict land subsidence by peat compaction
Koster, K., Erkens, G., Zwanenbrug, C. (2016). Geophysical Research Letters 43 (20) 10,792-10,799
Towards a global land subsidence map
Erkens, G., Sutanudjaja, E.H. (2015). Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences 372 83–87
Sinking Cities: An Integrated Approach to Solutions.
Erkens, G. Bucx, T., Dam, R., De Lange, G., Lambert, J. (2015). In: The Making of a Riskier Future: How Our Decisions Are Shaping Future. Disaster Risk, edited by Global Facility
for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. Washington, DC: World Bank. Case Study C 90-99
Short Communication: Humans and the missing C-sink: erosion and burial of soil carbon through time.
Hoffmann, T., Mudd, S. M., van Oost, K., Verstraeten, G., Erkens, G., Lang, A., Middelkoop, H., Boyle, J., Kaplan, J.O., Willenbring, J., Aalto, R. (2013). Earth Surface Dynamics 1 45-52
Complex fluvial response to Lateglacial and Holocene allogenic forcing in the Lower Rhine Valley (Germany).
Erkens, G., Hoffmann, T., Gerlach, R., Klostermann, J. (2011). Quaternary Science Reviews 30 (5-6) 611-627
Sediment dynamics in the Rhine catchment - Quantification of fluvial response to climate change and human impact
Erkens, G. (2009). Published PhD-thesis, Netherlands Geographical Studies 388 278 pp.
Trends and controls of Holocene floodplain sedimentation in the Rhine catchment.
Hoffmann, T., Erkens, G., Gerlach, R., Klostermann, J., Lang, A. (2009). Catena 77 96-106
Quantification of intra-Holocene sedimentation in the Rhine-Meuse delta: A record of variable sediment delivery.
Erkens, G., Cohen, K.M. (2009). Nederlandse Geografische Studies 388 117-171
Fluvial terrace formation in the northern Upper Rhine Graben during the last 20 000 years as a result of allogenic controls and autogenic evolution.
Erkens, G., Dambeck, R., Volleberg, K.P., Bouman, M.T.I.J., Bos, J.A.A., Cohen, K.M., Wallinga, J., Hoek, W.Z. (2009). Geomorphology 103 (3) 476-495
Holocene sediment budgets of the Rhine Delta (The Netherlands): a record of changing sediment delivery
Erkens, G., Cohen, K.M., Gouw, M.J.P., Middelkoop, H., Hoek, W.Z. (2006). IAHS-AISH Publication 306, 406-415.
Holocene floodplain sediment storage and hillslope erosion within the Rhine catchment.
Hoffmann, T., Erkens, G., Cohen, K.M., Houben, P., Seidel, J., Dikau, R. (2007). The Holocene 17 (1) 105-118
Architecture of the Holocene Rhine-Meuse delta (the Netherlands) – A result of changing external controls.
Gouw, M.J.P., Erkens, G. (2007). Netherlands Journal of Geosciences – Geologie en Mijnbouw 86 (1) 23-54
Salt-marsh erosion associated with hurricane landfall in southern New England in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries
van de Plassche, O., Erkens, G., van Vliet, F., Brandsma, J., van der Borg, K., & de Jong, A. F. (2006). Salt-marsh erosion associated with hurricane landfall in southern New England in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Geology, 34(10), 829-832.
|2014 - present||Co-initiator of the European technical committee for land subsidence within ISSMGE|
|2012 - 2016||Junior member of the Deltares Scientific Council|
|2010 - 2014||Co-chair of LUCIFS||The LUCIFS group (Land Use and Climate Impacts on Fluvial Systems) was a working group within the larger IGBP - PAGES Focus 4, and was concerned with the understanding of past interactions between climate, human activity and fluvial systems. A workshop was organised every 2 years in addition to sessions at larger conferences (e.g. EGU, AGU, INQUA)|
|2008 - 2010||Member of the steering committee of LUCIFS||I worked on the organisation of the LUCIFS-session at the 2010 EGU General Assembly. Additionally, I contributed to the content on the LUCIFS website.|
|2006 - 2008||Treasurer of the ‘Sedimentologische Kring’ (Sedimentology Circle)||The Sedimentology Circle is part of the Royal Geological and Mining Society of the Netherlands and functions as meeting board for sedimentologist working in The Netherlands. Each year, the circle organises small symposia, ad-hoc excursions, and a shorter and longer excursion to sedimentological sites in north-west Europe.|
|2005 - 2006||Member of the PhD-commission of the Centre for Geo-ecological research (ICG).||I organised a yearly symposium on geo-ecological research in the Netherlands, joined the research- and education-board meetings of the ICG, and organised social events for the PhD-students|
|2001 - 2002||Vice-president of the Student Faculty Council for Earth Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.||The student council is the official representative board of the students of the Earth Science faculty.|
|2000 - 2001||Treasurer of the faculty student commission for excursions and lectures (GeoVUsie, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).|