During two Taylor Swift performances in Seattle on July 22 and 23, 2023, an unexpected phenomenon occurred. Swift’s fans, through their sheer enthusiasm and collective dance movements, generated seismic activity equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.
The discovery, made by seismologist Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, brings new meaning to the power of music and fan engagement.
Taylor Swift vs the “Beast Quake”
The local seismometer detected the activity produced by Swift’s fans, comparing it to the famous 2011 “Beast Quake.” The Beast Quake refers to the seismic activity triggered by ecstatic Seattle Seahawks fans. This occurred after Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown in an NFC wild-card game against the New Orleans Saints.
Swift’s performances didn’t just shake the ground – they also broke records. Swift sold out both nights in Seattle. 72,171 fans attended the Saturday show, surpassing the previous venue record of 70,000 set by U2 in 2011.
Although this incident is extraordinary, it’s not unprecedented. Concerts have sporadically registered seismic activity. Notable instances include a 2011 Foo Fighters concert in New Zealand and a 2022 Garth Brooks concert at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. However, seismic magnitudes from these concerts weren’t reported at the time.
The Power of Music
Caplan-Auerbach, a geology professor at Western Washington University, was first alerted to the Swift comparison through a Pacific north-west earthquake group she moderates. Upon scrutinizing seismic data from both concerts and the 2011 NFL event, she noticed striking similarities. “I grabbed the data from both nights of the concert and quickly noticed they were clearly the same pattern of signals,” she told CNN.
Despite the minor difference between the NFL event and the Swifties dancing, Swift’s fans still managed to outdo the Beast Quake. The seismic activity caused by their continuous cheering and dancing was twice as strong as that of the Beast Quake. Caplan-Auerbach shared that the shaking “absolutely doubled” that of the Beast Quake.
While the ground-shaking cheer after the Seahawks touchdown lasted for just a moment, the energy driven into the ground by the dancing and cheering Swift fans (in addition to the music) generated seismic activity for a more extended period.
Swift’s Seattle concerts exemplify how her fans’ passion and engagement can literally shake the ground. As Swift’s Eras Tour continues, who knows what other records – or seismic readings – her dedicated fanbase will break.