Plenty of people will be watching the Carolina Panthers take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL playoffs today, including a group of scientists from Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). But, they're not interested in the final score. They're going to be looking at the seismic impact of thousands of cheering fans instead.
Back in 2011, a stunning comeback by the Seahawks led to such raucous celebration by the fans in CenturyLink Field that a nearby earthquake sensor picked up on the vibrations caused by the stomping of elated fans.
Since then, scientists have been able to capture other seismic events caused by fans at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Now, the people at PNSN want to take their research a step further and use today's game to test out their earthquake warning system.
The scientists are going to be monitoring activity in the stadium in order to test out a new earthquake alert system. The football game provides great publicity for the trial, so they can test out how the system will work when lots of people are visiting the site.
“We’re mostly interested in the speed and the reliability of the communications,” John Vidale, a UW professor of Earth & space sciences and director of the seismic network said in a press release. “It’s hard to simulate thousands of people using this tool all at once. When we can get a lot of people looking, we can see problems that we’d encounter during an actual earthquake.”