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Score One for the ‘Hawks

February 2, 2011

One concern occasionally voiced by those new to the Newberry EGS Demonstration is that of potential seismic activity, or tiny earthquakes, triggered by the demonstration’s operations. “Seismic activity” sounds scary, but most people have very little feel for how the Richter scale corresponds to real-life events.

Take, for example, the Seattle Seahawks’ recent upset of the New Orleans Saints, heralded by ESPN as “one of the most unlikely upsets in playoff history.” When Marshawn Lynch ran for a 67-yard touchdown with 3:22 left in the game, Seahawks fans, understandably excited, cheered and stomped and jumped with so much gusto that the actually registered on a nearby seismometer.

The vibration was similar to that of a magnitude 1 or 2 (M=1 or M=2) earthquake, according to John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, who paired the seismometer’s readings with a timeline of the game’s major plays:

Seahawks vs. Saints

Microseismic events related to the Newberry EGS demonstration are expected to be smaller than M=2, meaning gentler than 66,000 elated Seahawks fans stomping their feet.

For a more scientific look at microseismicity involving the Newberry Enhanced Geothermal Systems Demonstration, see the independent Induced Seismicity and Seismic Hazards Risk Analysis that was completed by URS Corporation late last year.

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