BRGM is a partner in the POCRISC project, coordinated by Catalonia’s cartographic and geological institute (ICGC) and which aims to promote a common culture of seismic risk in the Pyrenees.
28 March 2022

Results of the POCRISC project

BRGM was a partner in the POCRISC project, coordinated from 2018 to 2021 by the Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalonia (ICGC), and whose objective was to promote a common culture of seismic risk in the Pyrenees. This film presents the tools developed in the framework of this project.


Unlike other risks, earthquakes are not foreseeable. These mountains have been the scene of regular seismic episodes. There are not many earthquakes presently, so we are not really prepared if one takes place. We must prepare and collaborate in the zones where earthquakes could have repercussions on both sides of the border. The POCRISC project: for a common culture of seismic risk is 65% co-financed by the European Fund for Regional Development. The objectives are: to promote a common culture of seismic risk in the Pyrenees, improve and capitalize on our knowledge of the seismic risk of the elements exposed to it, evaluate it and contribute to its management strategy. And also, to give the public and risk managers the information, studies and results pertaining to the project. We thought it useful to support the POCRISC project to have a more global view, across the mountain range, and also to consider systems of governance and action on a cross-border scale. The idea is that the program, in its operational phase, lives, percolates and develops in the field with concrete applications. For a common culture of seismic risk Before the earthquake Anticipate At Bagnères hospital, we are trying to measure the ambient vibrations of the building. We'll find out how it deforms in an undamaged state without seismic activity. The hospital is a structure that, in the event of a major risk, must be able to carry out its mission. It's interesting to have feedback, an assessment of its potential resistance to an earthquake. These measurements enable us to use the digital model. We can simulate earthquakes of great amplitude that we have recorded in the region, and see how the building would be damaged. We can predict potential earthquakes in the region. We've equipped an essential building in each zone of the POCRISC project in Spain, France and Andorra. In parallel, we're developing a series of materials along with advice and recommendations to equip the buildings, and manuals on the seismic vulnerability of these installations, these buildings, to provide recommendations on how to reduce it. During the earthquake React As part of the project, with our Spanish partners, we have created "shakemaps", a rapid estimation of the intensity of tremors by means of measurements in real time via the network of seismometers, accelerometers, in the Pyrenees mountain range. After 5 minutes from the start of the earthquake, we have the location of the earthquake, we know where it took place, its magnitude, and we have the main parameters that allow us to estimate how the earthquake could be perceived over the territory, with what intensity it was felt. We also conducted a forward-looking action to see how the data captured about the earthquake, via Twitter, in real time, can help us refine the calculation of these "shakemaps". City dwellers are small seismic stations back-feeding information allowing us to adjust in real time the intensity maps. Using these intensity maps, damage scenarios can be considered. It is vital that the right information is conveyed at the right time, to the right person, but also in the right format. It must be compatible with the work methods of those people, who intervene at short notice. The idea of the first tool is to give an initial global view so that the emergency services know how to allocate available resources in terms of aid. As the situation comes under control and is known, the problems will change. After the earthquake Preserve Once the epicentre is located, the point at which the main earthquake occurred, we surround the main earthquake with as many stations as possible, and they draw the shape of the rift which provoked the main earthquake. What is new is that this protocol was designed so that the teams from the different centres in Spain, Andorra and France can collaborate and produce harmonized work. The second phase concerns localisation, to know exactly where the different earthquakes were located. In the Civil Protection Protocol, where the actions to be carried out are coordinated, when there is an earthquake, there is a seismic-assessment group, responsible for determining the state of buildings, if they are safe or damaged. The platform we are developing allows us to adapt to the situation and immediate needs. We can use it in a pre-emergency phase of preparation to gather coordinated data on the vulnerability of buildings faced with seismic risks. As for the technological part, it has only recently been used to evaluate damage, when technicians gather data in the field, and we see that it enables us to coordinate our teams to estimate damage and have a rapid estimation of the damage caused. That way, we can act accordingly, prepare shelters or temporary housing for the families or people who can no longer access their homes. To assess buildings by entering them can be dangerous and risky for the technicians and the emergency services. We try to develop non-invasive tools to analyze buildings remotely. For example, a medical ultrasound obtains an image and is non-invasive for the patient. Our aim is to develop this kind of tool which reads vibrations in order to assess the building's health. I'm involved in assembling a team to work on a macroseismic level. We have a scientific objective, to determine the severity of the tremors on the ground, by looking at and analyzing the damage to buildings. We look at the degree of damage, from slight cracks to the collapse of a building. With all this information, we have a fairly certain idea of the intensity, the severity of ground tremors on a local scale. With this data, this information, we can reproduce a historic earthquake that we have not experienced, but with our own vulnerability data. The work we do afterwards enables us to produce models for use in emergencies. In an increasingly digitalized approach, having the same applications on both sides of the border to inform and alert seems essential in terms of reactivity. The POCRISC project enables us, in the Pyrenees, to homogenize our methods, to improve them, and have sufficient human resources to cope with possible crises. We are starting to have tools and to be aware of the necessity to collaborate and find solutions to manage the situation together.

Logo of POCRISC project

Logo of POCRISC, a project under the POCTEFA INTERREG Programme.


The POCRISC project, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which provides 65% of its funding, under the V-A Spain-France-Andorra Programme (POCTEFA 2014–2020) brought together ten partners for three years (2018–2021) in France, Spain and Andorra, and seven associate partners.

The project falls under Theme 2 of the POCTEFA programme: “Promoting adaptation to climate change, and risk prevention and management”.

A joint project to promote greater consistency in the tools and practices used by cross-border services

The project concerned the cross-border area between Catalonia in Spain, Occitanie in France and Andorra.

The POCRISC project focused on promoting a common culture of seismic risk in the Pyrenees through:

  • developing shared approaches to risk evaluation across prevention services;
  • helping disseminate information to all the local authorities concerned and the general public;
  • providing decision-making tools tailored to the needs of emergency management teams.
Automatic macroseismic intensity map of the 16 January 2021 earthquake in the Girona area

Shakemap - Automatic macroseismic intensity map of the 16 January 2021 earthquake in the Girona area, with a magnitude of 3.4.


Results of the project

Within the framework of the POCRISC project, various tools were developed:

  • To anticipate risks: measurement of vibrations in key buildings and production of numerical models to assess their potential resistance to possible earthquakes, and recommendations to reduce their vulnerability;
  • To react during an earthquake: an online service of automatic maps of ground movements or "shakemaps" following moderate or major earthquakes in the Pyrenees, implementation of a full-scale crisis exercise coordinated by BRGM;
  • To preserve, after the earthquake: development of methods to assess the state of buildings and the severity of earthquakes, as well as a smartphone application for the assessment of post-seismic damage, developed by DeveryWare with the other partners.

All the project deliverables were implemented through the collaborative efforts of cross-border rescue services, including French, Catalan and Andorran civil protection partners. The project outcomes can then be scaled up to the whole of the Pyrenees region.

An earthquake simulation exercise in the Hautes-Pyrénées

As part of the European POCRISC project, in which BRGM was a partner and which aims to promote a common culture for managing seismic risks in the Pyrenees, a simulated event was organised around the town of Tarbes on 19 November 2021. A look back at this life-size exercise coordinated by BRGM.


POCRISC: for a common culture of seismic risk Seismic Exercise

Samuel Auclair, seismologist at BRGM and coordinator of the POCRISC exercise, which, at the end of the project, enabled us to test everything developed over four years to improve earthquake disaster management. During this exercise, we were able to test in a realistic environment, mobilizing a great many French, Spanish and Andorran partners, the contribution of these developments to crisis management.

I am Rosa Mata Frances. I am the head of operations and logistics at the Civil Protection General Directorate of Catalonia. I am in charge of coordinating the participation of Catalonia's Civil Protection in this project. We worked on two main areas. Firstly, building damage assessment. We helped to develop a questionnaire that enables different technicians on the ground to inventory post-seismic damage to buildings in a homogeneous manner, by all using the same method. In particular, we helped to design an application which collects this data without the need for paperwork.

We represent an association called ACE that wants to carry out the same work as the association AFPS in France. AFPS is the French Association for Earthquake Engineering. It provides assistance through the assessment of post-earthquake damage. We helped to develop manuals. Manuals for the assessment of the seismic vulnerability of buildings, of potential damage according to building type: old brick buildings, concrete structures, metal structures and so on. We estimate potential damage according to structure type. Among these manuals, which are an important part of the POCRISC project, there are manuals, for example, on how to equip buildings in order to evaluate their dynamic behaviour, how they react to earthquakes or how to reinforce them so they withstand earthquakes.

We tried to create an application which we developed in the framework of this project. It collects the data recorded by different technicians, in a centralised, homogeneous format so that it can be sent, processed and analysed in an emergency coordination centre.

We are here to see how this works with Deveryware, in order to analyse buildings, the vulnerability of their structures and to obtain information in the event of an earthquake. To have this information first hand and rapidly. The team is highly organized. It spans different municipalities. It is very important for us to see this relationship as well as the different units working on buildings. The building analysis unit is very coordinated. And the application developed by POCRISC will help us to manage crisis situations and obtain information. Those carrying out assessments will be able to communicate much more effectively. This will help us to plan and better manage crises.

Another important initiative developed by the project is the simulation exercise. Following an earthquake, a rapid estimate of damage gives disaster management teams an idea of what may have happened. This is then verified on the ground.

Today, we spent the day on a large-scale earthquake exercise. It required a fair amount of preparation. On the two different sites, there were 80 firemen who worked for five hours non-stop to retrieve 20 people trapped under rubble. Of course, they were not real victims. This exercise, like all the others, is important because we will be more efficient if we train. This exercise was different as it was on a large scale. It followed a fictitious event of great magnitude. It was a continuation of what we'd witnessed earlier. We worked with our colleagues from SDIS64 and those from Andorra, which is quite rare. We discovered new tools which can but improve our methods and victim response. It's our purpose and the project's purpose.

This exercise was very interesting. We saw how to organise ourselves. We saw the strengths and the weaknesses. What we have seen today enables us to structure and improve our operational plan.

We were able to both test the tools that we had developed during the project and also get to know the other participants, exchange opinions and experiences concerning our work and learn from each other.

The feedback from this exercise will enable us to not only improve the tools used in this project but also our response in the event of earthquakes in the Pyrenees.

PROCRISC project activities

PROCRISC project activities.


BRGM’s expertise supports the development of the Pyrenees region

The objective of this POCTEFA project is to strengthen economic and social development of the trans-border area between France, Spain and Andorra. It focuses on the development of cross-border economic, social and environmental activities using joint strategies that promote sustainable spatial planning and development in the area.

Through activities jointly coordinated by its Regional Activities Division and its Risks and Prevention Division, BRGM contributes its experience and expertise in earth sciences to the project, particularly with regard to the assessment of seismic hazard, vulnerability and risk in the Pyrenees region.


Associate partners