Aftershock Program

A damaged building in Maule, Chile.

Photo by: Angela Chung – A damaged building after the 2010 M8.8 in Maule, Chile.


In a sequence of earthquakes, the earthquake with the largest magnitude is called the mainshock; anything before it is a foreshock and anything after it is an aftershock.

Mission Statement:

The Quake-Catcher Network’s Rapid Aftershock Mobilization Program (RAMP) aims to rapidly deploy seismic sensors to any metropolitan region in the world hit by a major earthquake to understand how, when, and where aftershocks happen. QCN RAMP provides low-cost sensors and distributed computing techniques to quickly install dense seismic networks. This network can be used to quickly identify and locate aftershocks with the goal of providing information useful for earthquake response.

Why is RAMP Necessary:

For days, weeks, and even months, earthquake aftershocks can rattle already damaged buildings and stress already strained utilities and emergency response systems. QCN’s RAMP provides a fast and efficient system to get sensors on the ground soon after a large earthquake to better monitor the subsequent aftershock sequence.

How RAMP Works:

QCN has set aside 200 USB accelerometers that can be connected to any internet-connected computer and relay pertinent earthquake information in seconds. QCN collects the names of volunteers around the world to host USB sensors after a major earthquake. UPS will deliver these sensors to the RAMP participants after a significant earthquake. By volunteering now, you can help QCN streamline the distribution of the USB accelerometers if an earthquake should occur.

RAMP requires two types of volunteers:

  • General Volunteer: A general volunteer would install a QCN sensor and QCN software on their internet-connected computer after a large earthquake.

  • Regional Volunteer Coordinator: The regional volunteer coordinator would help coordinate the efforts of general volunteers in their region. Volunteer coordinator responsibilities will include:

    1. Receiving and distributing USB accelerometers to general volunteers in their region.
    2. Identifying additional volunteers in the region to host QCN sensors.
    3. Communicating with general volunteers to answer questions and troubleshoot potential problems.

    QCN will partner with research institutions near the epicenter in order to coordinate additionalsensor hosts in earthquake-prone metropolitan areas. By pre-compiling a database of potential sensor hosts and coordinators, QCN will save precious time in delivering the sensors to where they are needed most.

How can I help:

Following a sizable earthquake in your area, you can volunteer to host a sensor connected to your computer and/or you can download and run the BOINC-QCN app on your phone or tablet. The sensor attached to your computer or internal to your phone/tablet will record the on-going aftershock sequence.

To join using an USB-connected sensor attached to your computer please ensure your computer meets the following requirements and then request a sensor using the link at the bottom of the page.

    1. You have power and internet, with a backup power supply preferred.
    2. You felt the main earthquake or aftershocks.
    3. Your computer is less than 5 years old.
    4. Your computer run Windows or Mac OSX.
    5. Your computer has an unused USB port.

To join using your (Android) phone or tablet simply install the BOINC-QCN software by following the instructions here.


The QCN RAMP program is completely voluntary. QCN takes no responsibility for the actions of RAMP volunteers. QCN encourages all RAMP volunteers to consider safety first. In no way should RAMP volunteers endanger themselves while participating in QCN’s RAMP. Please read the QCN Legal Disclosure and Privacy Clause.

QCN RAMP Signup Form