Science and Tech


Sports Fans Shake The Ground So Much, It Spawned A New Kind Of Science

Soccer fans aren't the only group who are able to generate earthquake like vibrations from celebrating. Seattle Seahawks fans can hold their own, too.
Posted at 4:09 PM, Jun 19, 2018

When Mexico's national soccer team scored the go-ahead goal to defeat the defending German champs, El Tri's fanbase celebrated so hard seismologists detected their movement as an artificial earthquake. This might seem far-fetched, but tiny fan-caused earthquakes are actually relatively common at large sporting events.

In fact, these tremors happen so frequently in places where soccer is popular that they're known as "footquakes." Fans in Mexico City might not have felt the shaking, but two seismographs detected earthquake-like vibrations. Spanish researchers have found that every time FC Barcelona scores a goal at its 90,000-capacity stadium, the ensuing celebrations can trigger seismometers half a kilometer away.

The study of ground shakes around stadiums is part of a burgeoning field called urban seismology. Researchers say human-caused tremors can teach them more about how the signals from natural earthquakes travel. They say tools originally designed to study earthquakes might also be inexpensive ways to monitor subway or traffic activity.

Or other sports. In a 2011 NFL playoff game, former Seattle Seahawk Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown and caused a seismic reaction now known as the "Beast Quake." The Seahawks wound up inviting a researcher out to do live monitoring of seismic activity during playoff games. 

And occasionally, just the activity of the sport itself shakes the ground. In NASCAR the cars, helicopters, and machines in the races can generate much more seismic activity than fans. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN