Samantha Brunn, The Miami Student
Ohio State fans “Shook the Shoe” the weekend of the OSU v. Michigan game, and there were seisometers there to prove it.
Michael Brudzinski, professor of Geology and Environmental Earth Sciences at Miami University, along with graduate student Shannon Fasola, in partnership with The Ohio State University and the Ohio Geologic Survey, conducted a project to measure the “fanquakes” caused by the rumbling of the stands at the recent OSU v. Michigan football game.
Brudzinski said the main motivation of the project is an outreach effort aimed toward students in order to promote interest in the field of science.
“I thought this project was a great opportunity to get the public excited about the sciences in a way that most of them would understand: through football,” Fasola said. “I was thrilled to be a part of something that seeks to heighten people’s interests in the sciences.”
The partnership between OSU, Miami and the Ohio Geologic Survey was born out of an idea proposed to Brudzinski at an annual meeting of earthquake and seismology professionals in the state of Ohio.
“This project gave us a chance to explain to people who may not have experienced an earthquake what it’s like to experience something that rarely happens here in the Midwest,” Brudzinski said.
According to the website dedicated to the project, FanQuakes – Shake the Shoe, the Seattle Seahawks conducted a similar project known as the BeastQuake in a playoff game. Inspired by their project, Brudzinski said he was excited to replicate something similar here in Ohio.
Fans and those uninterested in football alike can find excitement in the fanquake project.
“Before the project, I didn’t really follow college football, but I found myself rooting for OSU purely so that the fans could create a large fanquake,” Fasola said.
Although the project has not been implemented anywhere on Miami’s campus yet, Brudzinski said he hopes to potentially do so in the future.
“We went where the signal is largest as our first attempt, but I would like to see what we could do here at Miami,” Brudzinski said. “Why not at a hockey game? Well, my worry with that is that the size of the structure and the way that it is built, as the stands are not very tall. I’m concerned whether we could get very good data from that type of event.”
Fasola said she thinks conducting the project here at Miami could definitely increase enthusiasm for both sports and science, as it did for her interest in college football.
An unexpected discovery that resulted from the project was the correlation between music played by the marching band and the size of the fanquake, according to the aforementioned website.
“I didn’t realize the band helps magnify the shaking because if they play a song with a good beat, then it is easier for all the fans to jump in unison to the beat of the song, therefore amplifying the signal on the seismogram,” Fasola said.
While Brudzinski said the main purpose of the project was outreach and student training, the project made quite a shake of its own, garnering news coverage from outlets such as NPR, the Associated Press, and ESPN’s Gameday Show.
“Now that OSU and Michigan are done with their seasons there’s more room on the sports pages to fill,” Brudzinski said. “So I wouldn’t be surprised if we ‘make waves’ of our own.”