Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

damaged building

Damaged building in L'Aquila (Italy), following earthquake in April 2009© EC (2009)

Earthquakes: support for disaster management


Following the earthquake of 6 April 2009 near L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region of Italy, the European Commission-operated Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) has been closely following the situation on the ground in an effort to support management of the disaster.

In the first phases of the event, maps and situation reports produced by the JRC's Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) have been used in order to give an overall assessment to the MIC and to all civil protection agencies in Europe.

Two JRC experts also participated, along with an international team of engineers, in a post-earthquake field reconnaissance mission to survey damage to buildings and lifelines and examine geotechnical failures with a view to improving design and retrofitting. By sharing assessment techniques and methods, the presence of international experts contributes to the effectivness of operations. European experts from France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the JRC collaborated with engineers of the Italian Civil Protection in the damage assessment to private buildings, as well as to buildings of historic and artistic value.

Closely supported by JRC-IPSC, the MIC is the operational heart of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection. It serves as a communications hub at the centre of emergency relief operations, disseminates information on civil protection preparedness and supports co-ordination, facilitating the provision of European assistance through the Mechanism.

The core mission of IPSC's European Laboratory for Structural Assessment is to carry out research on structural behaviour of buildings and performs vulnerability assessment of civil infrastructures. 

Further IPSC scientific and technical crisis management tools include the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS), providing a platform for stakeholders in international disaster response to exchange disaster-related information and automated analysis of satellite images for the processing, interpretation and analysis of geo-spatial data, which helps to quantify damages following conflicts or humanitarian and natural disasters.