When seismology is made by citizens

Citizen seismology is a cutting-edge scientific approach based on the collaboration between seismologists and citizens who have experienced an earthquake.

Many events are, by nature, transitory: when they occur, usually no scientist is on the spot ready to record them. But local people have the ability and the technology to help.

Right after an earthquake, citizens can inform the seismologists about the shaking they just felt and submit a report of their experience through comments, testimonies, pictures, and videos showing the damages engendered. As for the seismologists, they release information about the location and the magnitude of the earthquake along with safety tips and an indicative estimate of the earthquake intensity resulting from the citizens' testimonies.

LastQuake is a citizen seismology project and it would not exist without your contribution: when you feel a sudden shake and send us a report of your experience with comments, pictures, and videos showing the shaking you just felt and/or the damage engendered, you help us refine our understanding of earthquake effects while fostering our support in disaster preparation and response.

This novel approach, where citizens participate together with the seismologists to the earthquake science, brings a number of advantages to the fields of seismology, sociology and risk management as well as improving societal awareness towards earthquake risk and preparedness.

Benefits to seismology

In areas where there are only a few or even no seismic sensors at all, citizens and their mobile phones are essential for detecting earthquakes and gathering useful information for emergency response. Bringing citizens into seismology allows the dissemination of information between the earthquake eyewitnesses, the seismologists who are working on the seismic data, and the citizens who didn't feel the earthquake but who are still interested in knowing further details.

Benefits to sociology

Sociology is interested in individuals and their perception of, their reaction to, and their relationship with the world surrounding them. Citizen seismology enables a better understanding of the perception that citizens have of earthquakes and the risks associated. Comments and testimonies are a means for citizens to communicate their needs, whether they be emotional, relational or related to the earthquake information.

Benefits to risk management

The more a population is informed of natural risks, the more it is resilient and able to face calamities. Through social networks, websites and mobile apps, seismologists can support citizens before, during, and after a seismic event. At the same time, citizens can acquire knowledge on the behaviors to adopt in case of an earthquake. They are then armed to help not only themselves but also the people around them to stay safe during a seismic crisis.

Benefit to society

Knowledge is not a one-way road: scientists contribute to the general level of risk awareness in the population, but citizens can also provide scientists with precious insights that would otherwise have been overlooked. By engaging the populations affected by earthquakes, the EMSC addresses societal and scientific needs and advances the current understanding of seismic phenomena.

Get involved

There are several ways in which you can get involved and contribute to an earthquake-resilient society together with us. Did you feel an earthquake? Share your experience through our LastQuake channels: your comments, photos, and videos help seismologists better understand the local effects of the earthquake. Do you want to get in touch with other seismology amateurs and scientists? Join the LastQuakers forum and enter the community of citizen seismologists. Do you want to learn more about our projects? Check out our latest publications and study in details the activities carried out by the EMSC.