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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The jumps, stomps and roars of fans cheering on the Seattle Seahawks have been known to shake the ground around CenturyLink Field. That's where the NFL team plays its home games. Now scientists will use expected fan quakes during a game. It will be an 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 during a 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 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.

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 connectivity and readings.

A new tool called "QuickShake" is expected to display vibrations within three seconds. That 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. That's because TV 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. He is a UW professor emeritus of Earth and space sciences.

The seismologists also hope to test their website's traffic endurance and social media presence. It's an effort to go through the information dissemination procedures they would use during a real earthquake.

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

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

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COMMENTS (129)
  • ad2000softball
    1/20/2015 - 08:48 a.m.

    Scientists won't know for certain when they will see results from their experiment because they can't really predict what the fans are going to do and they can't really predict if the fans will be able to make as much noise and vibrations as they need.

  • AJ_Slater
    1/20/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    The seattle seahawks are a football team in the NFL. Their fans are very into the game, so into it hat whenever they jump up and down it creates a 1 to 2 earthquake. Now scientists are using this to develop an early warning system from an earthquake. I think that it is really cool that an enormous group of people can cause a small earthquake.

  • tristane-DeM
    1/20/2015 - 10:37 a.m.

    the onside kick was good and then the catch to win it all was suprising so im glad that the seahawks won because the cheese heads are bad.

  • ozzyc-DeM
    1/20/2015 - 10:48 a.m.

    The amazing fans of seattle are so crazy but the best fans ever and seattle is going to win the super bowl twice in two years

  • kobel-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 10:51 a.m.

    That's crazy I have saw the fans go crazy and yeah there wild and loud but scientist coming in to check that is crazy! Go seahawks!

  • SeabassK-5
    1/20/2015 - 11:18 a.m.

    This article is about the Seahawks football fans shaking the ground of CenturyLink Field because of the jumps and roars. The seismologists have installed three instruments into the stadium. When Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown for the Seahawks to make it to the super bowl, the Seattle fans roared and stomped so loud that the seismograph recorded a -1 or -2 earthquake! That's was known as the "Beast Quake." The tools that the scientists put into the stadium are called "QuickShakes." They are supposed to pick up a vibration within three seconds. He swaying, stomping, jumping and clapping of the fans make the ground shake. Why do scientists care about the shaking of the stadium that the fans make? How big will the earthquake be?

  • bol-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 11:29 a.m.

    Whoa that's awesome hopefully Tom Brady gets the win and leaves a legacy. Can't wait to see the game it will be exciting! Like when they beat the Packers Sunday I still v=can't believe that, that was the worst thing that could've happened.

  • jakes-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 11:30 a.m.

    This is a small step in the future of seismology. If scientists can keep detecting earthquakes faster, eventually we may be able to detect them before they happen and have people evacuate in time.

  • erinc-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 11:31 a.m.

    That is so cool that they can do this. This experiment really is Sports Science. It is good for the enviorment epically. I would really like to be a scientist and do this.

  • jaylenn-Eic
    1/20/2015 - 11:33 a.m.

    I think this is very interesting. I mean how just the fans are so excited that they can causes the same feeling as an earthquake.And its also very cool how scientists can get that information from a football game.

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