Seahawks fans cause small quake during Saints game
Seahawks fans rocked the stadium so hard during Monday night’s
matchup with New Orleans that seismic instruments registered small
tremors at various points in the game.
A magnitude 1 or 2 quake was recorded during Michael Bennett’s
22-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter. The
game, a 34-7 victory that clinched a playoff berth for the
Seahawks, registered on nearby seismic instruments several other
John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network,
said fans get the oval stadium moving back and forth by stomping
their feet and jumping up and down. ”It’s sort of what you see
when a car rocks back and forth,” said Vidale, also a University
of Washington earth and space sciences professor.
Vidale said a small quake wasn’t all that surprising in the
stadium, which is built on pilings dug through soft ground in
Structural engineers who plan buildings in Seattle often do so
with room for movement, so when a natural earthquake happens the
buildings aren’t so stiff that they crack and crumble.
Vidale watched the game from his office to compare seismic
reports with game action because he wondered if there would be a
repeat of the 2011 ”Beast Quake,” when Marshawn Lynch ran for a
67-yard, fourth quarter touchdown as Seattle upset the Saints to
advance to the second round of the playoffs.
After the 2011 quake, Vidale looked at the whole season and
found that that one Lynch run shook the stadium more than any other
moment during that season.
He said it’s possible quakes occur in stadiums in other cities,
but he suspects Seattle’s stadium is more flexible than most and
may flow with the fans more.
”People unconsciously get the stadium moving, sort of like the
wave,” he said.
Seattle structural engineer John Hooper said similar quakes can
happen anywhere a large number of people are moving in unison, but
the difference in Seattle is that there were instruments nearby to
record the quake and people were paying attention.
The same thing could happen next weekend in San Francisco, when
the Seahawks play the NFC West-rival 49ers, said Hooper, director
of earthquake engineering at Magnusson Klemencic Associates.
But he also acknowledged Seahawks fans are unique.
”They’re very enthusiastic and it shows,” Hooper said.
Seattle fans also made record noise Monday, setting the Guinness
World Record for loudest outdoor sports stadium noise at 137.6
Seismic reading from Monday’s game: