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Aix-en-Provence Center

Irstea’s new research unit in Aix-en-Provence.

Since August 17, 2015, the Irstea center of Aix-en-Provence is restructured as a single research unit, formed from the merger of three preexisting research units, with a research project focused on risk and vulnerability.

Research topics

The Aix-en-Provence center is focused on natural and environmental risks. The researchers, engineers, technicians and doctoral students have multidisciplinary expertise in the fields of environmental sciences, earth sciences, engineering sciences and ecology. They work mainly on Mediterranean issues, as the region is characterized by a specific climate, a very present relief, extreme events (rain, drought and flood), various forms of urbanization and a very rich biodiversity.

Researches are focused on terrestrial, inland aquatic ecosystems, watersheds and river basins networks, hydrographic network, hydraulic structures including  dams and river and sea dykes.

Research approaches are transverse and are interested in the analysis and risk assessment, in the tools and scenarios to be developed to achieve sustainable territories management . These cross-cutting approaches are possible only through an understanding of the processes involved and their modeling.

Research Units

Risks, Ecosystems, Vulnerability, Environment, Resilience (RECOVER)

Key figures of the Aix Center

  • A research unit consisting of 4 teams
  • A support service team dedicated to research
  • 110 people, including  60 researchers and engineers (including around 10 post-doctoral students), 15 to 20 doctoral students
  • Publications (annual average): 50 articles in peer review journals, chapters and books in scientific books, 20 articles in technical journals, and 80 scientific and technical reports.
  • 400 hours of teaching per year (including 230 for regional educational institutions)
  • A technological research platform certified by Irstea (Geomechanics)
  • 2 systems of data recording contributing to SOEREs(Environmental research monitoring and experimentation systems labelled by Allenvi: Réal Collobrier, SOERE RBV, Font Blanche, SOERE F-ORE-T).

Research Focus

Risk analysis and reliability of hydraulic structures

The center of Aix conducts work on risk analysis methodologies and reliability of hydraulic structures, which are the constant concerns of engineers and managers involved in the design, construction and operation. In this context, the safety assessment of a dam or dyke requires considering all potential failures that may occur in the works as well as the assessment of their probability of occurrence.

Model uncertainties

The Irstea researchers are therefore working to design models which display the behavior of hydraulic structures in order to represent the failure scenarios. The development of these models (called operational safety models) allows the probabilistic risk assessment of breakage using the reliability theory. The significance of the work of Irstea in Aix are valued by  innovative studies applied to existing structures, such as studies of the dangers of dams and dikes.

Practical Information