How can we help?

Explore our frequently asked questions.

How good are the sensors in phones?

Some phones have better sensors than others. However, sensors continue to get more and more sensitive with newer smartphones. Our testing has shown that most modern phones in use today can record earthquakes down to magnitude 5 within 10 km of the epicenter.

How are earthquakes traditionally detected?

Traditionally, earthquakes are detected by highly specialized equipment that is installed by field engineers. These sensors can produce high quality readings and are sensitive to the biggest ruptures down to the smallest tremor. However, the equipment is often expensive to create, install, and maintain so many communities are unable to sustain a comprehensive, up to date network.

What is the data that MyShake collects used for?

MyShake uses the data provided by citizen scientists to locate moderate to large earthquakes globally and determine their magnitude. MyShake seismologists can also use this data to learn more about earthquake dynamics in areas without traditional networks. This research could lead to the development of earthquake early warning technology in these areas.

I don’t live in an earthquake prone region, should I participate in MyShake?

Yes! There are few locations in the world where earthquakes never occur. Also, by participating in this citizen science effort, your data can provide a useful baseline against which to compare data from phones in more earthquake prone regions. Your contribution is valuable.

How can you differentiate between my movements and earthquakes?

MyShake’s algorithm uses a neural network to decide which motion fits the model of an earthquake and which doesn’t. The algorithm is already good at this, and as a MyShake user you’re helping it get even better!

When will I get early warnings?

We are testing early warning delivery capabilities right now as a pilot project for the US ShakeAlert program. We hope to deliver ShakeAlerts publically across California starting in fall 2019. Lessons learned from this test will enable us to expand earthquake early warnings to other countries around the world. This will happen when the number of users in an area is sufficient for MyShake to create accurate warnings and that a public education and training campaign has been developed to inform users how to respond to the warnings for their location.

How does my phone detect earthquakes?

A phone is ready to start detecting earthquakes after lying stationary for a period of time. Then the on board artificial neural network begins classifying NEW movements as earthquake-like or non-earthquake-like.

Who can submit an Experience Report?

Anyone can submit an experience report about an earthquake. However, only users within the impact zone of an earthquake will have their reports used as citizen science data, which is shown on maps and data visualizations on an earthquake’s page. The impact zone is the estimated area where shaking might be felt from an earthquake and is based on an earthquake’s magnitude.

What does the My Data page show?

You can see how you’ve contributed to the MyShake project and look at statistics about the project on the My Data page. Don’t worry if you haven’t been near an earthquake or experienced any since downloading the app, you’re an important part of the global seismic network just by keeping MyShake on your phone!

What are earthquake notifications?

Notifications are not early warnings for earthquakes. Notifications are sent when an earthquake is added to the USGS catalog, and that can take a few minutes.

What is IRIS and what is a nonmobile sensor?

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology ingests, curates, and distributes geoscience data. MyShake has partnered with them to give users more information about sensors outside the MyShake network. A non mobile sensor is a high-quality scientific instrument which is featured in the IRIS catalog and used by researchers around the world.

Still have a question?

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