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Sounders’ soccer crowd sets off ‘fan quakes’

PNSN team
Members of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network’s team take up their stations for the Seattle vs. Toronto championship soccer match inside the press box at CenturyLink Field. From left are Steve Malone, Elizabeth Urban and Mickey Cassar. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Can Seattle Sounders fans match the Seahawks’ “Beast Quakes” when it comes to making the earth move? Seismologists from the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network conducted their first experiment to address that question.

Based on today’s results from the Sounders’ MLS Cup championship match against Toronto at CenturyLink Field, soccer fans are definitely holding their own.

“We’re seeing great signals from the crowd,” Elizabeth Urban, a UW student who’s part of the PNSN team, told GeekWire at halftime.

Those signals were most obvious 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.

And that was with a scoreless first half. The needle moved even more wildly 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.”

The tremor that accompanied Seattle’s third goal was almost as strong.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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