Mexico's Game-Winning Goal Against Germany May Have Caused an Artificial Earthquake [Update]

Fans in Mexico City celebrate their team’s 1-0 win over Germany in the World Cup.
Fans in Mexico City celebrate their team’s 1-0 win over Germany in the World Cup.
Photo: Getty

When you knock off the defending World Cup champion, things are bound to get a little crazy. So it was in Mexico. In Sunday’s match against Germany, El Tri scored what proved to be the game’s only goal in the 35th minute. The resulting celebration of the thousands gathered in downtown Mexico City seems likely to have caused a small artificial earthquake.


Mexico’s Institute for Seismologic and Atmospheric Research reported the tremors on Sunday following the match, after Hirving Lozano took a pass from Mexican icon Chicarito, split two German defenders, and found the back of the net. The beautiful strike set off bedlam in downtown Mexico City, with two sensors on the south side of the city—the furthest of which was roughly five miles away—picking up pandemonium. 

Incredibly, these sensitive seismographs were able to pick up a signal that humans five miles away wouldn’t have been able to.

“Such events are not very large at all; Only sensitive (and generally close) seismographic equipment can detect the effects of crowds,” the agency wrote on its blog.

Fan-induced tremors have been detected by sensitive equipment before. A 1988 college football game between Auburn and LSU is known as the Earthquake Game. Marshawn Lynch sent Seahawks fans into a frenzy after ripping a 67-yard touchdown in during the 2011 football playoffs (though the killjoys at Deadspin threw some cold water on the quake at the time). Geophysicist Mika McKinnon pointed out that soccer fans have also set seismographs humming during past matches large and small from Cameroon to Spain. There’s even a term for them: footquakes.

In fact, this is the second footquake of this year’s World Cup. Seismographs in Lima picked up a signal when Peru was award a penalty kick in their match against Denmark (they shanked it badly, and ended up falling to the Danes 0-1).


But Mexico City’s seismic activity is special for a few reasons. For one, the distance the signal traveled is unique owing to the city’s geology. The city sits on a basin of hard bedrock that’s full of loose, wet in-fill, which McKinnon likened to a bowl of oatmeal.

“Any seismic wave bounces off those rock walls and reverberates through sediment,” she told Earther. “Mexico City is located in geology that amplifies seismographic activity. The same geology that amplifies seismic shaking from earthquake is going to amplify human sources.”


The level of excitement is also higher in Mexico than most other countries. The national team is a perennial almost ran. El Tri has made it out of group play only to lose in the Round of 16 in each of the past six World Cup tournaments. If the team actually advances beyond that round this year, the ensuing crowdsourced quake may put Mexico City’s stringent building codes to the test.

Update: A few accounts have thrown a little cold water on this particular footquake. We’ll keep you posted if any additional information becomes available.


Managing editor at Earther, writing about climate change, environmental justice, and, occasionally, my cat.


I live in New England, obviously too far to feel or care about the actual match but my wife told me that she felt the earth move on Saturday night.