The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network has installed monitors to measure the rumble that will be created by Seahawks fans at CenturyLink Field during Saturday’s game against the Detroit Lions.
Seahawks fans have a documented history of making the earth move (think Beast Quake).
And scientists are hoping the habit will help them perfect a system of predicting and monitoring earthquakes throughout the region.
On Thursday, a crew of scientists from the University of Washington Pacific Northwest Seismic Network installed several sensors and cameras around CenturyLink Field before the Seahawks’ Saturday contest with the Detroit Lions.
At kickoff, viewers will be able to watch real-time information about the stadium’s movements via the group’s website.
For example, if Russell Wilson happens to connect on a deep ball to Jimmy Graham in the fourth quarter to win it, the crowd’s certain exuberance would be recorded and relayed live to the site.
The goal is to detect, analyze and present information about seismic activity caused by excited fans inside the stadium as quickly and reliably as possible, said Bill Steele, the network’s spokesman.
This isn’t the first time the sensors have been placed in and around CenturyLink. For the past three years, the scientists have been capturing fans’ movements during big games. By detecting the initial tremors from an earthquake from the closest stations, a warning system could provide up to several minutes notice before the strong ground shaking hits, scientists say.
Network scientists hope the data collected during the Seahawks playoff run could help improve warning systems and save lives, Steele said.
In addition to collecting data, scientists hope to test the computer systems that share the information with the public in real-time.
The network’s website might get just a few hundred views during an average week, Steele said. But per-week visits to the website explodes into the millions after seismic events, putting pressure on its systems.
Steele said scientists want to know whether their computers can keep up with demand. And a Seahawks playoff game is great for creating those conditions in a controlled environment, he said.
“As we’re developing products, we want to make sure we’re thinking about how in practical terms we push data to a lot of people quickly,” he said. “For that, there’s nothing like a real-world stress test.”