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Taylor Swift’s Concert Ignites Seismic Activity: A ‘Swift Quake’ Comparison with Beast Quake




Fans at Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” concert in Seattle didn’t just bring the house down with their enthusiasm, they caused the ground to shake. Seismologists reported seismic activity equivalent to a 2.3-magnitude earthquake at her concert at Lumen Field, a phenomenon that the fans have coined as a ‘Swift Quake.’

Seismic Studies and Analysis

Seismologist Jackie Caplan-Auerbach from Western Washington University initially observed the seismic data after noticing conversations in a social media group dedicated to Pacific Northwest earthquakes. After collecting 10 hours of data from the time doors opened to after the audience had gone home, the ground-shaking activity correlated with the duration of the concert.

The activity generated by Swift’s concert was comparable to the ‘Beast Quake’ in 2011, caused by the excitement of Seattle Seahawks fans following a touchdown from Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch. “This was much bigger than the Beast Quake in terms of the raw amplitude of shaking and it went on for a whole lot longer,” Caplan-Auerbach told Seattle’s King 5 news. However, Caplan-Auerbach added the caveat that the two events were different, making direct comparisons challenging.

Human Activities and Seismic Vibrations

James Hammond, a professor of geophysics at Birkbeck, University of London, highlighted that it is “quite common” for human activities like parties and concerts to create such vibrations, sending “a lot of energy into the ground.” This energy travels as sound waves through the Earth and is measured using sensitive seismometers.

Although a 2.3-magnitude earthquake is relatively small, its presence is a testament to the power of human activity. Hammond confirmed that it would only have been felt close to the concert and would not have caused any damage due to the relatively small amount of energy released.

Coronavirus Pandemic and Vibrational Changes

During the coronavirus pandemic, vibrations from human activities were reduced significantly worldwide due to lockdowns and social restrictions. This makes the return of such vibrational spikes at music festivals and sports matches particularly noticeable.

The Seattle Concerts

The Seattle concerts reportedly broke the attendance record at Lumen Field, which has a capacity of about 72,000 people. Swift herself acknowledged the vibrant atmosphere, expressing her enjoyment of the lively Seattle concerts on social media.

Experts agree that the booming sound system and the cheering, stamping, and dancing of fans likely contributed to the seismic activity. “I collected about 10 hours of data where rhythm controlled the behavior. The music, the speakers, the beat. All that energy can drive into the ground and shake it,” Caplan-Auerbach told CNN.

The Science Behind the Vibrations

Tarje Nissen-Meyer, a geophysicist at the University of Oxford, said in an interview that the vibrations were unsurprising and “basic physics.” “Vibrations from all sorts of sources continuously excite the earth. Having tens of thousands of Swifties dancing in sync then induces a sizable vibrational force onto the ground,” he added.

Nissen-Meyer also noted that high-precision seismic instrumentation continues to improve, raising the possibility of detecting more social events in the future.

Swift Quake and Live Nation Controversy

This seismic event has put Swift’s “The Eras Tour” back in the headlines, following a previous controversy involving ticket sales. The demand for the tour highlighted alleged monopolistic practices within the live entertainment industry, especially concerning Live Nation Ticketmaster, leading to investigations by politicians and the Department of Justice.

Despite the controversies, the Seattle concerts were a resounding success, with Swifties literally shaking the earth. In the case of Swift’s concerts, the ground shook not due to geological forces, but from the energy of thousands of fans dancing and cheering in unison. The ‘Swift Quake’ stands as an incredible testament to the raw power of human enthusiasm and collective energy.