Seahawks fans again literally shook the earth during today’s win over the New Orleans Saints, and it looks like the impact was even greater than in January 2011, when fans jumping and stomping and screaming generated energy roughly equivalent to a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake.
“This signal looks bigger than the one three years ago,” said John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington, “but we don’t know yet.”
Seismologists will need a few days to be sure, he said.
Three years ago, the amount of energy that fans generated after a Marshawn Lynch touchdown in that game, also against New Orleans, was registered on a seismometer about a block from CenturyLink Field, and became known as the “Beast Quake.” The ground shook at about the same level Dec. 2, 2012, when Michael Bennett grabbed a fumble and ran 22 yards for a touchdown — also during a game with the Saints.
Earlier this week, U.W. seismologists installed two new sensors at CenturyLink Field, partly for fun, but partly for training.
“It’s a good test for the network to make sure we can do a good job in an earthquake,” Vidale said.
Not everything worked perfectly, but seismologists did get some clearer signals today. The largest jolt followed Lynch’s game-clinching touchdown. The second was after his first entry into the end zone. The Saints’ missed field goal in the first half was third.
The second Lynch touchdown, Vidale said, appeared to generate about twice as much energy as his first.
The seismologists posted graphs on Facebook and Twitter throughout the game. They even set up a Webpage, http://www.pnsn.org/seahawks
And for the few – any? — who weren’t aware of today’s game, Vidale offered this, on Facebook: “This is the Seahawks football game, in case anyone misinterprets these posts as dangerous earthquake activity.”