Seattle Sounders fans made some noise and did a lot of jumping up and down during Sunday’s MLS Cup championship match against Toronto at CenturyLink Field, so much so that seismologists from the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network were able to pick up the ruckus on instruments used to register earthquakes.
“We’re seeing great signals from the crowd,” Elizabeth Urban, a UW student who’s part of the PNSN team, told GeekWire at halftime.
The signals that Urban and her team were picking up peaked when Sounders fans started jumping together.
“At first I thought it was a train going by, but it was very much lined up with when the fans were jumping,” seismologist Steve Malone, an emeritus research professor at UW, wrote in a PNSN blog posting.
The needle moved even more when the Sounders scored two quick goals in the second half.
“Both goals — particularly the second one — really, really showed up well. Very strongly, all the way from here to our station located several hundred yards away,” Malone told GeekWire. “The second goal seemed to be louder … and lasted longer.”
According to Geekwire, the experiment was aimed at providing training in rapid instrument installation and urban seismology for PNSN’s researchers, who play a role in monitoring seismic events in the Pacific Northwest. The team has also registered “Beast Quakes” emanating from Seattle Seahawks games.
“Fans simply yelling will be of no interest to us; however, their jumping up and down should generate vibrations in the stadium and even be transmitted through the ground to sites at some distance,” Malone said. “The Sounder FC fans are particularly well known for their synchronized rhythmic jumping together, which should generate very strong seismic signals.”