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

The jumps, stomps and roars of fans cheering on the Seattle Seahawks have been known to shake the ground around CenturyLink Field. Now scientists will use expected fan quakes during a playoff game to experiment with an earthquake early warning system.

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

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

"We became interested of what we could see if we put the instruments closer, right in the stadium with people in the stands," said John Vidale of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

University of Washington scientists with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network have installed three instruments in the stadium, two up in the stands and one by the playing field. Seismologists have used such instruments at the stadium in the past, but this year's experiment features faster connectivity and readings.

A new tool called "QuickShake" is expected to display vibrations within three seconds, which is five to 10 times faster than the tool used with the sensors last year, the scientists said.

If a big play prompts a fan quake, viewers monitoring the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network's webpage will see the activity before they see it on television, which has about a 10-second delay during broadcast.

"The Seahawks experiment should provide us and the Internet-connected public with a feel for the minimum time early warning might provide," said Steve Malone, a UW professor emeritus of Earth and space sciences.

Besides giving fans the option of monitoring the earth movement around the stadium, the seismologists are hoping to test their website's traffic endurance and social media presence in an effort to go through the information dissemination procedures they would use during a real earthquake.

"It's hard to simulate thousands of people using this tool all at once. When we can get a lot of people looking, we can see problems that we'd encounter during an actual earthquake," Vidale said.

The collective energy is created by tens of thousands of fans jumping, clapping, stomping and swaying, which travels throughout the stadium, shaking the ground underneath, scientists said.

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

Assigned 21 times

  • JS2001basketball
    1/20/2015 - 08:43 a.m.

    They wont know for certain when they will see their results because football teams don't play everyday so their results will come out at different times

    1/20/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    because scientists don't know when the next earthquake will, so they won't know when the test will be finished. once an earthquake hits, then the test will be finished.

  • CharismaM
    1/20/2015 - 01:29 p.m.

    I hope the scientists will be able to improve the tool. It will help in preventing too many injuries in case an actual earthquake does occur.

  • ratiaira
    1/20/2015 - 01:45 p.m.

    oh wow so basically it is saying that the fans can cause an earth quake from them cheering on their teams that is weird but cool at the same time because they can stimulate a earth quake

  • BushnellD-Tan
    1/21/2015 - 08:37 a.m.

    The scientists at the Sea-hawks stadium are trying to use the fans to see if they can make an early warning system for earthquakes. I think this is a good idea because if there was an early warning system for earth quakes then there wouldn't be as many people dying from earth quakes each year. I think that using the fans is a good idea. With their cheering, stomping feet, and jumping that already shakes the ground. The scientists would have the data they needed right at their finger tips. I hope that the scientists figure out a way to create a warning system for earth quakes.

  • nickb-Lam
    1/21/2015 - 05:22 p.m.

    It is really amazing how many people are dedicated to a sport and will make such a huge commitment towards regular people having the time of their life on the football field. I think this is a great investment; therefore, I believe that a lot of people will buy into this test.

  • joshh-Lam
    1/21/2015 - 05:28 p.m.

    I think they got a little too excited when they won the game. I know people get excited, but to cause an earthquake? I wish I could get that excited to be able to cause an earthquake.

    • alexcl-Lam
      1/22/2015 - 03:59 p.m.

      They said it was an earth quake, but only a -1 or -2.

  • mirandama-Lam
    1/21/2015 - 05:43 p.m.

    What I think about this article is that the "beast quake" is outrageous! Seahawks have come a long way. Many people are supporting them in many different ways.

  • jamieu-Lam
    1/21/2015 - 05:53 p.m.

    It's kinda incredible that the Seahawks fans can do that, but it kinda makes me wonder how come they didn't find this sooner. After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, they had all these fans come out of no where. If people would have been a Seahawks fan from the beginning, maybe scientist could have gotten a lot more evidence on this earth quake stuff.

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