Scientists will use football fans to simulate quake As several pieces of seismic monitoring equipment sit on the floor, a scientist does a "stomp test" to check the gear at the Seattle Seahawks' field. At left, a scientist points out a seismogram display on a monitor (AP photos)
Scientists will use football fans to simulate quake
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It gets so loud at Seattle Seahawks home games that the ground literally shakes. The jumps, stomps and roars of fans cheering on the NFL team now will be used for an experiment. Scientists will measure those expected fan quakes during a game. The experts plan to experiment with an earthquake early warning system.

Scientists first noticed the earth shaking around the Seahawks' stadium during a 2011 playoff game. That's when running back Marshawn Lynch broke eight tackles and ran 67 yards. It was during one 13-second play against the New Orleans Saints. That run was considered one of the most impressive in NFL history. It sparked a very big fan reaction. It was big enough to create a seismic tremor. The small quake was recorded near the stadium. Fans jumped and stomped their way to a magnitude -1 or -2 earthquake.

It became known as the "Beast Quake." That's because of Lynch's nickname.

Now University of Washington scientists with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network have installed three instruments in the stadium. Two are up in the stands. One is by the playing field. Seismologists have used such instruments at the stadium in the past. But this year's experiment features faster readings.

They will try out a new tool. It's called "QuickShake." It is expected to display vibrations within three seconds. That is five to 10 times faster than the tool used with the sensors last year.

If a big play prompts a fan quake, viewers monitoring the seismic network's webpage will see the activity. Even before they see it on television. That's because TV has about a 10-second delay during broadcast.

Steve Malone is a UW professor emeritus of Earth and space sciences. He said the experiment should provide a feel for the minimum time an early warning might provide.

The seismologists also hope to test their website's traffic endurance and social media presence.

The collective energy is created by tens of thousands of fans. They are jumping, clapping, stomping and swaying. The reverberations travel throughout the stadium. That shakes the ground underneath.

If the home team plays well, the ground just might move.

Critical thinking challenge: Why can't scientists know for certain when they will see the results of their test?

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COMMENTS (5)
  • Thor's Lightning
    1/20/2015 - 01:22 p.m.

    I think that this is a very good idea, to try out a Quake Machine at Centurylink Field. But, the sad thing is that when the Green Bay Packers play at CenturyLink, the Scientists won't get a chance to try out their Quake Machine.

  • John0724-YYCA
    1/20/2015 - 08:25 p.m.

    This is amazing that the people could cause a mini earthquake and it was football fans from watching the Seattle Seahawks play football. I don't know if the people do it so much maybe they can like make a earthquake like those big earthquakes. Well one thing for sure is that the scientists are going to try to get the warning sign or something about the earthquakes this time. CRITICAL THINKING CHALLENGE: Why can't scientists know for certain when they will see the results of their test? ANSWER: Maybe it is because they don't know if they are going to know if the people are going to go crazy and stomp theground which causes to an earthquake.

  • KeaganB-1
    1/21/2015 - 10:46 p.m.

    The Seattle Seahawks play at Centurylink field where it gets really loud. At Centurylink field in 2011 scientists recorded an event of fans stomping and jumping to be a -1 or -2 magnitude. This event is known as the "Beast Quake". This is because Marshawn Lynch broke eight tackles and ran for sixty seven yards to score a touchdown for the Seahawks against the Saints. Scientists have planted three tools to help them measure the waves. I thought this article was very interesting.

  • CooperG-Mau
    1/28/2015 - 11:36 a.m.

    Wow how did Lynch even brake 8 tackles in the first place? They must get hyped up in there if they could move the stadium a little.

  • mekhimwmsteam1
    5/08/2015 - 08:48 a.m.

    See,I being the football fan myself would say that's pretty cool.And that run though by" BeastMode" was extraordinary;broke eight tackles in one play, that's almost the whole team!But yeah really cool they should test that in every stadium

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