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How big was that fanquake in the ’Shoe?


Fall
2017

Columbus doesn’t experience a lot of earthquakes. But being in Ohio Stadium on a football Saturday can give you a good idea of what a seismic event feels like. Now, Ohio State geologists have devised a way to quantify the experience.

Derek Sawyer, an assistant professor in the School of Earth Sciences, leads a team of researchers who use seismometers to measure movement in the stadium whenever the Buckeyes make a big play.

For example, when Curtis Samuel scored in double overtime to carry the Buckeyes past Michigan last year, Sawyer’s team registered a 5.8-magnitude “fanquake,” the biggest of the season. For perspective, Sawyer noted, Ohio’s largest earthquake — in Lake County in 1986 — measured 5.0 on the Richter scale.

The team will continue its research at home games this season and next. Theirs is one of five Ohio State research projects funded through a 2017 Battelle Engineering, Technology and Human Affairs Endowment. The BETHA grant competition was established in 1975 by Battelle Memorial Institute, an Ohio State neighbor and frequent collaborator dedicated to problem solving through science and technology.

The impact of Sawyer’s research extends well beyond the stadium, into public education and safety. “We actually have earthquakes in Ohio,” he said. “And with the increase in hydraulic fracturing, we have induced seismicity, especially in the eastern part of the state.”

So, the next time you visit the ’Shoe, cheer a little louder and jump a little higher. The Buckeyes and Sawyer’s team would appreciate it.