Rockin' in Seattle: Noisy Seahawks fans move needle on seismometers

Story highlights

  • Stomping and yelling of fans register on devices
  • Seismometers respond to vibrations, scientist says
  • Seahawks beat Saints 23-15
Seattle's CenturyLink Field was shaking Saturday.
Scientists have verified this.
Nearly 70,000 of the Seattle Seahawks' famously vocal fans registered on two seismometers, devices that measure motions of the ground, typically for earthquakes, installed for an NFL playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.
It helped, of course, that Seattle won 23-15.
The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network webpage explained why the seismometers were placed in the stadium: "This is an experiment to investigate how an excited crowd energizes the stadium structure to shake, and how that shaking propagates into the surrounding ground."
The stadium set a Guinness World Record for noise at an outdoor stadium last September, and went seismic last month in another game against New Orleans, registering at a recording station about a block from the stadium.
Seattle fans also shook the earthquake recording station during a game in 2011. Once again, the opponent was the New Orleans Saints.
Last month's game hit in the magnitude 1-to-2 range, John Vidale, a professor at the University of Washington and the director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, said at the time.
The magnitude for the playoff game was a little higher, he said Saturday, going on to explain that the instruments responded to the stomping and yelling of the fans.
"This game outclassed the game of a few weeks ago and was comparable to the game from three years ago," Vidale said.
Seismometers respond to vibrations, not noise, he said.
"We measure what you can feel as vibrations," he said. "We don't read high frequency, as what people can hear."
It's happened before, in Louisiana, of all places. In 1988, fans at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge rocked the bayou in a come-from-behind victory over Auburn, registering on the campus seismograph.