Scientists say they can measure small earthquakes at games in Seattle

Posted at 2:14 PM, Dec 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-23 15:14:04-05

SEATTLE — It started by chance.

Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks pulled off one of the greatest runs in NFL Playoff history in 2011 against the Saints. The play registered in the minds of Seattle fans everywhere.

It also registered literally.

A member of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network noticed a reading on one of his seismic station monitors next to the stadium around the same time of the run. He was able to match the timing of the reading with the timing of the run. He wrote a blog about it that night. And the legend of The Beastquake was born.

"This beast quake became a huge thing for us," said PNSN researcher Doug Gibbons. (Beast Mode was Lynch's nickname.)

Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CNN all came calling for information on how fans excitement could create the equivalent of a small earthquake.

The folks at PNSN had an idea. They went to the Seahawks and got permission to place several seismic measuring instruments throughout the stadium to measure other "Fan Quakes" during playoff games.

Predictably, what they got was similar shaking for other big Seahawk plays.

"We can go slap down seismic instruments and get that data back very, very quickly and so it was good practice for us," said Gibbons.

In fact, they've got so fast at PNSN that they will get measurements of the big plays before viewers on television even see them.

They won't be measuring the Chiefs game but say they would like to be out there again this season if the Seahawks host a playoff game.