Seismology will again watch/help the Seahawk's playoff run
January 5, 2015
by Steve Malone
When rocks break along a geological fault deep in the earth, vibrations are started that we feel on the surface of the earth and call an “earthquake”. When enthusiastic Seahawk fans jump up and down and shake the stadium (and the ground under it) we record those vibrations on nearby seismographs but don’t call them earthquakes. Such shaking was first recognized at the PNSN back in 2011 in response to a spectacular Marshawn Lynch run that was named a “Beast Quake”. In anticipation of more stadium shaking events last year we installed several seismographs in CenturyLink Stadium to record fan enthusiasm for the Divisional playoff game against the Saints and the NFC Championship game against the 49ers. We learned a lot, but there is more to learn. So lets do it again.
In addition to the same motivations for last years’ experiments we have some new equipment, techniques and products, so have some new motivations for this year. Some of these are based on what we learned last year, not only on the technical and scientific side, but also on the public outreach and education side. For example, the social media demand was more challenging than we had expected. The real-time nature of reporting on a football game lends itself to rapid information broadcasting through different channels and also to immediate feedback from many interested parties. During a real earthquake or volcanic sequence we need to be able to produce and distribute not only data and automated analysis but also interpretations and responses to legitimate questions and concerns. Social media plays a part in this. While no where near as stressful and dangerous as a real geophysical event, a Seahawks game can allow us to test and practice many of the capabilities we will need sometime in the future….. and will be fun, besides.
As before, we will be providing some real-time and near real-time data feeds through this website. Last year we had some failures and successes using new web technology for rapid seismogram delivery. We will again provide the Hawk-o-grams which show a summary of shaking over the past several hours but are delayed from real time by 15-40 seconds. Also a new, faster and scalable display technique with only a couple of seconds delay called "QuickShake" will be tested.
This tool is intended to bolster our effort to provide Earthquake Early Warning (PNW Early Warning Workshop) to the public, and will be tested using Early Football Rowdiness Warnings. It should show when the fans go crazy 5+ seconds before the action unfolds on TV, given the 10-second delay built into televised NFL games. We are developing this software to provide real-time views of seismic waves when a great earthquake is starting to roil our coastal seismometers. It could also provide an instantaneous tool for observers to keep an eye on a future bothersome earthquake swarm or a volcano that is acting up. A good work-out from Internet Seahawk fans will help shake out problems.
We hope to even do a bit of science to help resolve the different shaking characteristics of "Beast Quakes" versus "Dance Quakes" as discovered last year.
Remember, this is an experiment. Things can go wrong. See caveats.
So, check out our real-time and near real-time data feeds, our social media feeds and check back on our blogs for updates, interpretations and excuses. Oh, and if you are at the games jump up and down (for our sake) and scream like mad (for the team's sake).
QuickShake ~3 sec delay and 90 second duration with 3 minutes history via slider.
Fan-O-Meter2 ~10 sec delay and 10 minutes duration (Same technology as last year)
Hawk-O-Grams ~30 sec delay and hours duration