The human side of seismology: Footyquakes and SciScouts

Monday 21 August 2017
Malcolm Sambridge at GIO Stadium for the Raiders #Footyquake

Over the weekend of the 19-20th August more than twenty staff and students from RSES took part in two separate Science Week events to engage the public in the measurement of anthropogenic earthquakes.

At the SciScouts event on the Cotter river, Michelle Salmon, Sima Mousavi, Yuwei Li and Armando Arcidiaco took on the challenge of turning 1300 hundred 6 to 18 year old school kids into earthquake 'jumpers'. The young were not restless and displayed ample enthusiasm to create their own seismic energy, which was duly recorded by the seismologists.

They also did drills on what to do if they were caught in an earthquake. This is not just a fun activity, experience shows that teaching the youth is an effective means of conveying seismic hazard information to communities living in earthquake prone regions of the world. The students learnt that, fortunately in Canberra we study earthquakes more often than we experience them.

In a separate event at the GIO stadium, RSES staff, Michelle Salmon, Herbert McQueen Julian Byrne and Malcolm Sambridge had installed a seismometer under the main stand in an effort to record the first #footyquake during the Raiders vs Panthers NRL game. It is well known that if enough members of the crowd jump and clap at the same time then micro-seismic events are created that might be recordable by a strategically placed seismometer.

A marquee was set up in the west forecourt before the match where RSES staff and students engaged with the Raiders fan base explaining seismic waves, earthquakes and how we measure vibrations from a human induced micro seisms. Caroline Eakin was on hand to provide expert advice during Science at ANU’s Facebook Live event and see that the day was communicated more broadly through social media. Several news and print media outlets, including ABC and the Canberra Times, picked up on the story and featured the event over the weekend.

Results show that the Viking clap was clearly recorded and the team were able to watch the game from the stand while monitoring in real-time the first ever footyquakes created by the crowd when the Raiders and the Panthers crossed the line. The Raiders may have lost on points but they won the footyquake contest with more energetic signals recorded by the home team supporters.

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Updated:  24 January 2019/Responsible Officer:  RSES Webmaster/Page Contact:  RSES Webmaster