Earthquake Reconnaissance Teams and Data Collection

Earthquake Reconnaissance

EERI sends multi-disciplinary reconnaissance teams of earthquake risk mitigation experts to investigate earthquake impacts. Reconnaissance teams travel to earthquake-impacted areas, document important observations, and identify topics in need of follow-up research. The ability to make observations rapidly and precisely following a disaster has long been recognized as critical to managing emergency response activities in the short term and improving the understanding of natural hazards in the long term. Participating in earthquake reconnaissance is a vivid reminder of why we are actively engaged in earthquake engineering and risk management. 

In cases where EERI does not send a reconnaissance team,  local members are encouraged to submit an ‘EERI Member-Contributed LFE Reconnaissance Report’. Members interested in creating and submitting an ‘EERI Locally-Contributed LFE Reconnaissance Report’ should utilize the EERI template (download). Acceptance criteria for reports published in LFE website are (1) the subject of the report should represent a relevant earthquake reconnaissance effort; (2) the work is of sufficient technical quality, including adequacy and conciseness of presentation; (3) the information presented is timely; (4) the report contains findings from several disciplines; and (5) approval by an Ad-hoc committee formed by the LFE Chair at the time of submission. To submit a report, please contact Maggie Ortiz-Millan at

LFE Reconnaissance Team Member Roles

EERI reconnaissance teams are comprised of volunteers.  EERI is not able to compensate participants for the significant time reconnaissance activities demand.  Limited funding is often available to reimburse travel and lodging expenses during the field research period.  Participants are expected to have a valid passport and must sign a hold-harmless statement before embarking into the field.  Participants are responsible for obtaining all necessary health and medical advice, and must be able to demonstrate they have proper inoculations and medical evacuation insurance prior to departure.  More information about the roles and selection process for team leaders and members are below. EERI reconnaissance roles vary depending on the earthquake location and whether EERI will be supporting an EERI funded team. For more information, view EERI’s complete LFE Operations Protocols, approved on Dec 8, 2015.

Reconnaissance Data Collection Tools

EERI is currently using the Fulcrum Data Collection App for earthquake reconniassance data collection. The Fulcrum app is intuitive and completely integrated with the photo galleries in the LFE virtual earthquake clearinghouse websites. The free Fulcrum app is available in the App Store and Google Play Store. To learn how to use the Fulcrum app, view the video tutorials. If you would like to use the LFE reconnaissance forms in the Fulcrum App for earthquake reconnaissance, please contact

Resilience Reconnaissance Framework

The LFE Framework for Resilience Reconnaissance provides recommendations on what to observe over time to:

  1. understand the overall performance of systems within a community after a major earthquake,
  2. identify critical elements that drive system performance,
  3. describe interdependences between systems, and
  4. determine transformative changes enacted to mitigate possible future disasters.

To reflect the systemic nature of a community, the Framework considers the five primary community systems to be (1) natural environment, (2) built environment, (3) social, (4) institutional, and (5) economic systems. The Framework further identifies multiple subsystems associated with each systems and supports data collection with sets of questions, data examples, and data collection timelines.


The framework was developed under a project funded by National Science Foundation Award #1235573. For more information about the activities conducted under the NSF grant, see the Resilience Observatory page.

Reconnaissance Workshops

2022 Stakeholder Workshop on Organizing Post- Earthquake Reconnaissance to Optimize Impact.

EERI hosted the Stakeholder Workshop on Organizing Post-Earthquake Reconnaissance to Optimize Impact on July 1, 2022. The workshop was designed to improve coordination among the many reconnaissance groups who would respond to a US earthquake. The workshop was attended by over 65 participants and included discussion about the desired impacts of earthquake reconnaissance, concerns about reconnaissance coordination, and potential next steps to resolve coordination concerns. The workshop report organizes the most important impacts, concerns, and next steps into coordination categories: reconnaissance workforce, research agenda, plans and protocols, data collection and management, outputs and dissemination, and changes in policy and practice.

Workshop Summary Report - Graphical

Workshop Summary Report - Full

2014 Post-Earthquake Data Collection Workshop

A workshop to discuss recent experiences and future needs related to post-earthquake data collection was held in Anchorage, Alaska from July 20 – 22, 2014 with participants from several different countries including New Zealand, Italy, Chile, Japan, Canada, and United States. Due to recent earthquakes in many of the represented countries, the workshop provided a unique opportunity to review data collected internationally, critically evaluate current data collection approaches, initiate collaborative international research efforts to maximize the knowledge gained from recent devastating events, and begin to develop international consensus on data collection protocols for future events.

Support and funding for this workshop was provided by the University of British Columbia, Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (New Zealand), and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute via its the National Science Foundation grant entitled “Seismic Observatory for Community Resilience – A Program to Learn from Earthquakes” (Award No: 1235573).

Workshop Summary Report & Resolutions with Appendix (pdf file, 76 MB)

Workshop Executive Summary (pdf file, 3 MB)

2003 Report: Collection and Management of Earthquake Data: Defining Issues for An Action

This 118-page report issued in 2003 represents the first step in developing an action plan to define a systematic protocol for the collection and management of earthquake data. It is the outcome of a September 2002 two-day invitational workshop organized by EERI as part of its Learning from Earthquakes Program, supported by the National Science Foundation. Over seventy members of the multidisciplinary earthquake community identified the following three major tasks that must be accomplished in order to develop an action plan: (1) improving data collection, (2) improving data access, and (3) improving data organization and use. This report discusses the problems with current data collection, the opportunities that have been lost from lack of data, types of data that need to be collected after earthquakes, and their purposes. This report also makes recommendations to serve as the framework for an effective action plan. The report includes several appendices, including background papers entitled “Learning from Earthquakes: A Survey of Surveys” and “An Overview of Post-Earthquake Damage Assessment in Italy.”

Download PDF

Post-Earthquake Investigation Field Guide

Developed in 1996, the LFE Field Guide covers a great variety of subjects from geosciences to engineering, emergency management, and social sciences. It emphasizes careful advance planning, outlines procedures for team coordination, describes responsibilities of project participants, and offers guidelines for specific data collection in the field. It contains various forms, international information sources and contact names, pre-departure checklist, and recommendations for further research. Although prepared primarily for EERI reconnaissance teams, the guide can be a useful tool for anyone involved in post-earthquake investigation. The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute is currently updating this guide. The original Field Guide components, as well as field investigation forms updated in 2000 and 2004, are below.

 LFE Field Guide Components (1996):

LFE Post-Earthquake Investigation Forms (2000):

Detailed Post-Earthquake Investigation Forms (2004):

Reconnaissance Training

EERI conducts reconnaissance training workshops to train members on reconnaissance data collections tools and prepare them to conduct reconnaissance following an earthquake in their area. Materials from LFE Reconnaissance Training Workshop are available here: Members interested in organizing a reconnaissance training in their area should contact LFE Program Manager Maggie Ortiz-Millan at for more information.