The principal scientific objectives of the EMSC are :
to establish and operate a system for rapid determination of the European and Mediterranean earthquake epicentres (location of major earthquakes within a delay of approximately one hour). The EMSC, acting as the central authority, is responsible for transmitting these results immediately to the appropriate international authorities and to the members in order to meet the needs of protection of society, scientific progress and general information;
to determine the principal parameters (epicentre, depth, magnitude, focal mechanisms...) of major seismic events located within the European-Mediterranean region and dispatch widely the corresponding results;
to encourage scientific cooperation among European and Mediterranean countries in the field of earthquake research, and to develop studies of general interest such as: epicentre location methods, construction of local and regional travel- time tables, magnitude determination, ...etc;
to promote the exchange of seismological data between laboratories in the European-Mediterranean area;
to satisfy any request related to detailed studies of specific events;
to assure the functioning of an European seismological data bank;
to promote the improvement of observational systems in the European-Mediterranean region through a critical examination of the seismological coverage, and to suggest methods for improving the quality of observations and their transmission to the EMSC.
Since 1993, the internal structure of the EMSC has been functioning differently from the past. EMSC members include key nodal members, active members and members by rights. Several governing bodies have been created to oversee and coordinate the EMSC activities. There are as follows :
EMSC Coordination Bureau comprising the EMSC President, first Vice-President and Secretary General. It defines and coordinates the tasks of EMSC key nodal members.
EMSC Executive Council composed of the EMSC President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary General, three elected members. It prepares the Assembly and make recommendations.
Planning, implementation and execution of the various activities of the EMSC are under the responsibility of the President and the Secretary General. They have to report to the governing bodies, at least once a year, during the Assembly meeting. Additional committees, which are consulted on an ad hoc basis, have been created :
ORFEUS-EMSC coordinating committee : this committee reviews and proposes joined actions to be taken by both organisations in order to promote the scientific activity in their specific fields. It consists of representatives from ORFEUS, from EMSC and of an independent chairman.
The whole weight of EMSC scientific activities has been shifted towards several key nodal members, whose work is coordinated through the EMSC Coordination Bureau. The key nodal members are committed to the full execution of their specific task to which they devote the necessary manpower and financial means. They report to the Coordination Bureau, that has the duty to inform and disseminate the results to other EMSC members as well as to European and international institutions.