That Richter Scale Rumble in Seattle? Blame Taylor Swift Fans

Aug 4, 2023

Pop superstar Taylor Swift’s fans are collectively known as “Swifties,” but based on the din of their enthusiastic support during the singer’s “Eras” tour, they might just as well be called “Shakies.” At Swift’s shows last week in Seattle, Washington, so loud were their stomps and screams that the vibrations registered on earthquake-measuring seismometers.

At the ground-rumbling apex of Swift’s concerts at Lumen Field on July 22 and 23, nearby equipment reported shaking equivalent to a 2.3 on the Richter Scale, an internationally-accepted measure of earthquake strength. The scale runs from 0.0 to 9.9; a 2.3 would classify as a “minor” quake, with discernible effects for several miles around the epicenter.

While there were no reports of damage from the so-called “Swift Quake,” it did conjure memories of another measurable Richter blip from 2011. The “Beast Quake” occurred when running back Marshawn “Beastmode” Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks scored a playoff touchdown against the New Orleans Saints, causing fans to erupt in celebration. But Swifties, apparently, outdid the Seahawks faithful.

"The actual amount that the ground shook at its strongest was about twice as big during what I refer to as the Beast Quake (Taylor's Version)," Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, a geology professor at Western Washington University, told CBS News.

Though Caplan-Auerbach doesn’t identify as a Swiftie, she did celebrate the singer’s seismic effect on her fans’ interest in science.

"I was so excited about the fact that all these Swifties have reached out to me, and that all these people are engaging in science, because I think it's really important to demystify the scientific process," Caplan-Auerbach said.

Photo from Instagram courtesy of @taylorswift.

Reflect: How can big events, like concerts or sports games, create impacts beyond the excitement of the event itself? Can you think of any examples where such events might have impacted the surrounding area or community?

What is the best evidence that the enthusiastic support of “Swifties” caused a minor "Swift Quake" during Taylor Swift's "Eras" tour in Seattle? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. The seismic activity was measured on earthquake-measuring seismometers.
b. The event received widespread media coverage.
c. There were no reports of damage from the ground vibrations.
d. The “Beast Quake” happened in 2011.
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