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CenturyLink Field set to record fan-induced earthquakes with seismometers

If the Seahawks come up big against the Saints, seismometers are set to record the fan-induced quake. If the Seahawks come up big against the Saints, seismometers are set to chart the fan-induced earthquakes. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The last time the New Orleans Saints visited Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, the 12th Man made enough commotion to register a 1-to-2-magnitude earthquake. That number could intensify for the playoffs Saturday, and the Seahawks will have the equipment in place to record it. The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network is placing two seismometers inside the downtown stadium.

Now we’ll see just how unhinged the 12th Man can get.

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The reputation of CenturyLink’s noise took off in 2011 when fan reaction to a Marshawn Lynch 67-yard playoff touchdown run registered on the University of Washington’s seismic network. That run, dubbed the “Beast Quake” in Seattle, set a standard for fans, matched only this year when Seahawks faithful set the Guinness World Record for noise at an outdoor stadium twice -- first in September and again in December after the Kansas City Chiefs crowd stole it from them.

Then, to top off the noise-making ability in Seattle, fan exuberance registered on the seismic charts once again on Dec. 2 while the Seahawks beat the Saints 34-7. The seismic network recorded five events during the game, the strongest coming after Michael Bennett returned a fumble 22 yards for a score.

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But placing two seismometers inside CenturyLink -- one on the field, another in the stands -- plus a third outside the building for the playoffs isn’t all purely scientific study. Bill Steele of the seismic network tells local media he wants to have fun with the whole thing too. Still, scientists can learn a little bit about how seismic waves travel in downtown Seattle.

After all, the seismic team is fully expecting another few earthquakes. And so are 67,000 unrestrained 12th Man fans.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.
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