Team Svalbox

The Svalbox team comprises many geologists working around Svalbard – both from the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in Longyearbyen and various partner institutions. Many of the digital outcrop models and other data shared through Svalbox were acquired as part of affiliated MSc and PhD projects, as well as affiliated research projects.

Here we provide an overview of the core Svalbox team as well as a growing list of Svalbox-key data contributors, ambassadors, partners and alumni – with sincere thanks to the hard work of all the involved geoscientists!

Getting involved?

Svalbox is open for anyone to use and we welcome the entire geoscience community to make use of it. If you want to be actively involved in the project, either as a student, an intern, a collaborating researcher, an educator or to provide us with financial backing please contact us at, or 

We can offer an active research environment where it is ok to go beyond the mundane, though critical, tasks of data management and think outside the box. We are very much aware of living in the digital revolution affecting the geosciences – traditional field work is as important (and as fun) as always, but digital techniques are here to help. We need a strong multi-disciplinary team of geologists, geophysicists, data scientists, geographers and computer scientists to fully exploit this digital revolution. Please get in touch with your ideas and skills. 

Core Team

Svalbox was set up in 2016 by Kim Senger. Since then a number of key contributors have actively invested extensive time to develop Svalbox to what it is today, with these forming part of the Svalbox core team based at UNIS. The Svalbox core team is responsible for the day-to-day management of Svalbox and actively growing it with respect to both new data acquisition and improving data integration platforms. Two key members of Svalbox, Aleksandra and Peter, recently moved on to careers outside of UNIS but are still considered as part of the core team.

I, Kim, was born in Praha, Czechia, and raised in Czechia, Germany, England (the flat part) before moving to New Zealand to study at university and become a volcanologist. That never materialised – instead I went on exchange as a bachelor student to UNIS in 2005 (yes, the last year of the “old UNIS”) and subsequently spent the entirety of my career in Norway. Industry jobs (Bayerngas Norge before the PhD and Electromagnetic Geoservices after the PhD) provided me with an excellent opportunity to develop my technical skills within the energy sector and understand what key skills are required (which is what I try to teach to present day). My PhD project (2010-2013) was based at the University of Bergen but focussed on the Longyearbyen CO2 laboratory project, specifically on the influence of natural fracture systems and igneous intrusions on the reservoir-caprock succession. Since 2015 I am employed permanently at UNIS as an Associate Professor in Structural Geology and Basin Analysis and have since 2016 been developing the Svalbox concept – with the main motivation to make the excellent outcrops (our “office”) of Svalbard be more easily accessible to others and to get more quantitative data out of them as possible. During my PhD we (mostly with Kei Ogata) mapped over 7000 fractures using a handheld compass. It took us the better part of two field seasons. Now, just a decade later, we can use digital outcrop models to generate almost infinite fracture planes to feed our models. That’s what I call progress!

Kim Senger

Nil Rodes

I come from Barcelona, and I grew up surrounded by nature, with the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees mountains as my backyard. This fostered my deep love for the natural environment and science, which led me to pursue a BSc in Marine Sciences at the University of Barcelona. Fascinated by the polar regions, I decided to pursue a double MSc in Polar and Marine Sciences (POMOR), which took me to Russia, Germany, and Svalbard. I studied for a year at Saint Petersburg State University, six months at Bremen University, and six months as a guest master’s student at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). After successfully defending my thesis on gas seepage in the fjords of Spitsbergen, I began working as a research assistant in the Svalbox project, where I was involved in acquiring, processing, and uploading multiple digital outcrop models (DOMs). Through Svalbox, I have been fortunate enough to work all over Svalbard, digitalizing the amazing outcrops that this place has to offer. In early 2024, I started a new role as a Head Engineer in the Arctic Geology Department at UNIS, where I get to do and support science in the field, which is what I love the most.

Originally from East Africa, I have spent most of the past decade in Svalbard. Implementing standardisation and quantitative aspects picked up in a previous career in Chemistry, my work now focuses on bringing the geosciences into the digital era and open data science – with all the benefits that encompasses. Much of my Svalbox contributes have been with that in mind, with highlights including the set up of the various databases, the digital acquisition (and standardisation) of outcrop data, various – open – eLearning portals with best practices, and the launch of the Svalbox Digital Model Database. The latter has been key to exploring Svalbard’s caprock and reservoir sequences across the archipelago, which were the focus of my recently finished PhD (2019-2023), as well as future activities as part of my new position at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.

Peter Betlem


Aleksandra Smyrak-Sikora


I started exploring the Arctic in 2006 as a geology student at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. I joined a field trip to Svalbard with the AGH University of Krakow and fell in love with the place during my month-long stay in Hyttevika. That’s when I knew my Arctic journey was just beginning. I returned to Svalbard in 2009-2010 to work as a seismologist during the XXXII overwintering at the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund. Later, I also took part in various courses at UNIS (The University Centre in Svalbard). In 2012, I moved to Longyearbyen to start my PhD project. I earned my PhD from the University of Bergen, Norway but I was based at UNIS for the entire project period.  I later became a postdoctoral researcher in geology and then an associate professor in basin analysis, both at UNIS. After over a decade of living in Svalbard I moved to the mainland Norway. Currently, I’m based in Trondheim, working at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), but I still stay active in Svalbard research and education. My focus is on collecting and integrating geo-data to understand the geological evolution of Svalbard, especially looking at long-lived structural lineaments.


Rafael Horota

Ongoing MSc and PhD Projects

Svalbox supports the field work of ongoing MSc and PhD projects at UNIS – and provides a platform for sharing digital outcrop models acquired from various parts of Svalbard. If you have a Svalbard-focussed PhD or MSc project and want to join the Svalbox team please do not hesitate to contact us. For MSc students we always have a number of exciting opportunities for thesis projects.

Active projects

Anders Dahlin, focussing on mixed siliciclastic-carbonate deposition in the Hornsund area. Anders is based at UNIS and formally registered at the University of Oslo. His PhD project is funded by the Suprabasins project funded by the Research Council of Norway and industry partners. 

Rafael Kenji Horota bridges the gap between pedagogics and geosciences, investigating how digital tools assist in educating the next generation of geoscientists. Rafael is based at UNIS and formally registered at the University of Bergen. His PhD project is funded through the iEarth Centre for Excellent Education. 

Anna Sartell focusses on constraining the timing and emplacement mechanisms of the Early Cretaceous dolerites in Svalbard, and their relationship with the circum-Arctic High Arctic Large Igneous Province. Anna is based at the University of Helsinki (who also fund her through an individual PhD scholarship) and is routinely seen at UNIS each summer to sample more dolerites and analyse the digital outcrop models. 

Julian Janocha is investigating the sedimentary-tectonic history of the Carboniferous, focussing on Bjørnøya and southern Spitsbergen. Julian is based at the University of Tromsø and a guest PhD student at UNIS. 

Jack Whattam is looking at magmatism in the Oslo rift. However, following a course at UNIS and a successful AFG grant application he also joined the Svalbox field campaign in summer 2023 to constrain fracturing patterns in dolerites in northern Isfjorden. 

Ongoing MSc projects

Elise Lindell is investigating the interaction between magmatic intrusions and fault zones. She is based at the University of Stockholm and is a guest MSc student at UNIS. 

Muriel Bulhoff is looking at the structural geology of the Billefjorden Trough, with particular focus on fracturing of the metamorphic basement underlying the Trough. She is based at the University of Innsbruck and is a guest MSc student at UNIS. 

Svalbox Ambassadors

As the career paths of the Svalbox team develop, “Svalbox-ers” end up outside UNIS. Here they have a chance to act as Svalbox ambassadors, pursuing Svalbox data usage beyond UNIS and, equally importantly, serve as a link between Svalbox and the non-academic world. 

  • Tom Birchall – Senior Geologist at Equinor, Stavanger
  • Aleksandra Smyrak-Sikora – Associate Professor at NTNU, Trondheim
  • Peter Betlem – Project Engineer at Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Oslo
  • Tereza Mosociova – PhD student at University of Oslo
  • Julian Janocha – PhD student at University of Tromsø, soon Senior Geologist at Equinor, Harstad
  • Gareth Lord – Senior Geologist, Equinor, Stjørdal

Svalbox Partners

Over the years, the Svalbox team has established excellent collaborations with a number of world experts. These have contributed to joint projects, publications and other initiatives. Thank you and we look forward to great collaboration in the future!

The Svalbox partners list is by no means set in stone – so please get in touch if you want to jointly develop Svalbox further… 

  • Sverre Planke – Volcanic Basin Energy Research and University of Oslo
  • Simon Buckley – Virtual Outcrop Geology group
  • Dan Kramer – University of Sherbrook, Canada
  • Marius Jonassen – Department of Arctic Geophysics, UNIS
  • Sten-Andreas Grundvåg – University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway
  • Isabelle Lecomte, University of Bergen
  • Kei Ogata – University of Napoli, Italy

Svalbox Alumni

A lot of people have contributed to Svalbox throughout the years. We thank you for all your efforts! As a token of appreciation we here list our research and field assistants, as well as interns. The full list of graduated MSc and PhD student is available under Publications. 

Research and field assistants, interns

  • 2017 – Sofie Kolsum
  • 2018 – Niklas Schaaf
  • 2021-2023 – Nil Rodes
  • 2022 – Carl Lie
  • 2022 – Oda
  • 2022 – Ole
  • 2022 – Matthijs Nuus
  • 2023 – Tereza Mosociova
  • 2023 – Muriel Bülhoff

Graduated MSc students

Festøy, M.H., 2017, Integrated characterization of igneous intrusions in Central Spitsbergen [Master thesis]: UiT Norges arktiske universitet,
Betlem, P., 2018, 3D thermo-baric modelling of central spitsbergen: Implications for gas hydrate occurrence [MSc]: University Centre in Svalbard and Reykjavik University.
Schaaf, N.W., 2018, Tectono-sedimentary history of the Forlandsundet Graben [Master thesis],
Larssen, K., 2018, Integrated characterization of the Upper Permian Kapp Starostin Formation in central Spitsbergen, Svalbard. From outcrop to geomodel. [Master thesis]: UiT Norges arktiske universitet,
Hagevold, S., 2019, From outcrop to synthetic seismic: 2D and 3D modelling of igneous intrusions at Botneheia, central Spitsbergen [Master thesis]: The University of Bergen,
Løvlie, K.H., 2020, Structural deformation and mineralogy of the Agardhfjellet and Rurikfjellet formations in central Spitsbergen, Svalbard [Master thesis],
Nakken, L., 2020, Structural evolution of the lower Agardhfjellet Formation, in Central Spitsbergen: Implications for caprock integrity [Master thesis],
Janocha, J., 2020, Structural and depositional evolution of the Fortet karst collapse outcrop in inner Billefjorden, Central Spitsbergen, Svalbard, doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.23452.51842.
Weert, A.M.P., 2020, Sedimentary Intrusions in the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous Agardhfjellet Formation at Deltaneset (Spitsbergen, Svalbard): Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 32 p., doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.11025.61280.
Sartell, A., 2021, The igneous complex of Ekmanfjorden, Svalbard: an integrated field, petrological and geochemical study.
Rodes, N., 2021, Gas hydrate stability and distribution in the fjords of western Spitsbergen, Svalbard archipelago. An assessment based on indirect hydrates indicators, doi:10.5281/zenodo.7025125.
Rodes, N., 2021, Gas hydrate stability and distribution in the fjords of western Spitsbergen, Svalbard archipelago. An assessment based on indirect hydrates indicators [Master thesis]: Saint Petersburg State University, Hamburg University, Bremen University, The University Centre in Svalbard, doi:10.5281/zenodo.7025125.
Rylander, S., and Sterley, A., 2022, Integration of geology with geophysics : Case studies from Svalbard,
Rylander, S., and Sterley, A., 2022, Integration of geology with geophysics : Case studies from Svalbard: KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering., 65 p., (accessed February 2024).
Mosočiová, T., 2023, Faciální analýza a depoziční architektura systému aluviálních kuželů v rámci riftové pánve Billefjorden Trough, Svalbard: Masaryk University, Faculty of Science,;info=1; (accessed March 2024).
Ammerlaan, F., 2024, Gravity and magnetic data integration for forward modeling in Svalbard [Master Thesis],

Graduated PhD students

Birchall, T., 2021, Pore Pressure Regimes of the Northern Barents Shelf: Implications for Fluid Flow [Doctoral thesis], (accessed May 2023).
Betlem, P., 2023, De-risking top seal integrity: Imaging heterogeneity across shale-dominated cap rock sequences [PhD dissertation]: University of Oslo, 286 p.,

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