Football Fervor Sets Off Earthquake Alarms in Peru

Fagjun | Published 2017-11-30 23:13

When’s the last time you can truly say that you got so ecstatic over something that you literally set off an earthquake alert? For football fans in Lima, Peru, the answer is “November 11, 2017”.

Players and fans alike celebrate Peru's victory over New Zealand in a World Cup qualifying match.



Enthusiastic football fans in Peru have triggered the occurrence of a mild tremor in the city of Lima. Football fans are known to be quite the rowdy bunch, and the game can inspire such passion in those that love it. Football teams come onto the pitch with the full force of their fans backing them, and football matches can be huge events to which millions of people gravitate toward.


Not every game is the same, though. A World Cup qualifier, which can determine if your country will compete in the World Cup or not, is a much bigger deal. Peru, in particular, hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1982. However, its team’s victorious goal against New Zealand has ensured that Peru will finally compete on the world stage for the first time in over 30 years.

Football Fever


Watch for Farfan’s goal at around the 2:00 mark [Video by Resumen Fútbol HD]



But is qualifying for the World Cup such a big deal that it can trigger an earthquake alert? Apparently, yes. Peru was playing New Zealand in Lima’s National Stadium, and almost everyone in the city was tuned in to the match that can make or break the country’s World Cup aspirations. About 27 minutes into the match, Jefferson Farfan of Peru turned himself into a national hero by scoring a remarkable goal that broke the 0-0 stalemate.


Farfan became the epicenter of a shock wave of ecstasy that spread across the city--and the whole country, most probably. The celebrations were such that they actually registered on the Sismo Detector app.


The Sismo Detector app is an earthquake warning system that sends out an alert when it detects tremors in the earth. In Peru, which experiences more than its fair share of earthquakes, small tremors don’t really generate much worry. This time, however, it seems that it wasn’t an earthquake that set off the alarm.


Technically, the tremor caused by celebrations over Peru’s victorious goal wasn’t an earthquake. After all, it didn’t have a geological origin. However, the whole host of people jumping up and down in celebration caused a tremor that did register as 1.0 quake on the app.

Detecting Earthquakes From Your Phone

A Twitter account that monitors seismic activity marvels at how celebrations in Lima set off the Sismo Detector app. [Image via IFLScience]



So how do earthquake detection apps work anyway? In much the same way that fitness trackers on your phone, which can count how many steps you’ve taken in a specific timeframe, work. These kinds of apps work by tapping into your phone’s accelerometer, which functions as a motion detector. The accelerometer can measure the static pull of gravity, which is why your phone can adjust its visual display when you turn it upside down ot to its side.


Earthquake apps enable smartphones to recognize the “signature” way that earthquakes shake the ground. "It's about looking at the amplitude and the frequency content of the earthquake, and it's quite different from the amplitude and frequency content of most everyday shakes,” says Richard Allen, head of the MyShake project, which is an app that also detects earthquakes. “It's very low-frequency energy and the amplitude is not as big as the amplitude for most everyday activities."


That’s fitting, since it’s not everyday that your country ends its World Cup drought.

Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!