02:55 AM

Ohio State fans generated biggest “fan quakes” of the season during the Michigan game

Quake of The Game: Starting with the 2016 football season, Ohio State University geologists have been measuring the magnitude of “fan quakes” created when fans jump up and down in Ohio Stadium. The biggest quake measured so far happened during the OSU-Michigan game, during Curtis Samuel’s winning touchdown in double overtime. It generated a cumulative 5.79-magnitude quake on the researchers’ newly created FanQuake Magnitude Scale. Video courtesy of The Ohio State University.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—During the Ohio State-Michigan football game on Saturday, Ohio Stadium shook like no other time in the 2016 football season—a fact now determined with scientific accuracy.

Geologists here have been measuring the “fan quakes” created in Ohio Stadium as fans jump up and down during games.

Curtis Samuel’s game-winning touchdown in double overtime registered as a 5.79 on the researchers’ newly created FanQuake Magnitude Scale, and was easily the biggest quake of the 2016 season.

The scale converts shaking from fans into the perceived magnitude of a naturally occurring earthquake, if one were to occur centered 10 kilometers (about 6.2 miles) below ground underneath the stadium. Geologists gather the data from seismometers planted around the stadium.

From the opening kickoff—which registered as a magnitude 5.27 as fans bounced up and down in unison to the White Stripes’ song “Seven Nation Army”—the Michigan game had already surpassed the previous record fan quake. (The previous record was a cumulative magnitude 5.2 quake caused by another Samuel touchdown versus Nebraska on Nov. 5.) It didn’t hurt that the Michigan game attracted 110,045 fans, the largest in the stadium’s 96-year history.

The fan quakes rose in intensity over the course of the game, reaching a cumulative 5.45 during Malik Hooker’s second-quarter interception, a 5.65 during Jerome Baker’s third-quarter interception and Mike Weber’s subsequent touchdown, a 5.70 during J.T. Barrett’s first overtime touchdown, and, finally, Samuel’s 5.79-magnitude winning touchdown.

The project is a collaboration among Ohio State, Miami University and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Researchers will use the results to teach students important lessons in seismology, and raise earthquake awareness in general.