Expert: On Closer Inspection, Mexico’s ‘Artificial Earthquake’ Did Not Happen


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Newswise — EVANSTON, Ill. — Although global media recently reported manmade seismic activity in Mexico after Mexico’s World Cup victory over Germany on Sunday, a Northwestern University seismologist said the seismic occurrence is unrelated to mass celebration.

A seismograph has been circulating among various media reports. But Suzan van der Lee, professor in Northwestern’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, reviewed the data and found that the signals do not correspond with the end of the soccer game.

Van der Lee said three of the circulating seismographs were collected from Raspberry Shake seismometers, which are small, personal seismometers typically purchased by hobbyists and placed in the basements of occupied buildings.

“Obviously, people were watching the game in some of these buildings,” van der Lee said. “The signal shown could be related to a family or two reacting to the goal, but the signals certainly do not stem from a mass celebration. Convincing reports about fans in mass celebration creating seismic signals are made near stadiums where fans gather — not from people watching TV at home.”

After reviewing data from a professional seismometer station located at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, van der Lee noted no recognizable signals related to Mexico’s go-ahead goal, suggesting that the city’s reaction to the goal did not lead to seismically observable data. 

Another circulating seismograph did not record activity from Mexico City but from Guerrero — located 140 miles away — which coincidentally experienced a small earthquake the same day as the World Cup game.

“I estimate that the Guerrero earthquake recorded by the station in the 39th minute of the game is a magnitude 2.8 earthquake at a similar distance as a magnitude 4.3 earthquake a day earlier,” van der Lee said. “A purely natural earthquake that coincided with the game by chance.”

Van der Lee can be reached for further explanation and comment at 847-491-8183 (office), 847-736-3789 (cell) or suzan@northwestern.edu.

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