Ground shook under Eden Park during RWC final

New Zealand All Blacks fans celebrate at Eden Park.     REUTERS/Anthony Phelps
New Zealand All Blacks fans celebrate at Eden Park. REUTERS/Anthony Phelps
The ground literally shook when the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park.

A seismometer buried 25 metres beneath the stadium has revealed how much the 60,000-strong crowd rattled the earth beneath their feet as they cheered, groaned and finally celebrated the historic victory.

The compelling story of the heart-stopping 8-7 win over France can be traced in data collected by Auckland University scientists.

The seismometer usually measures seismic waves generated by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions but is sensitive enough to pick up the ground movement caused by 60,000 screaming fans.

From 8pm, the ground began to move as fans filled the stadium.

Then as the New Zealand and France national anthems were sung and the haka was performed, the seismic waves continued to climb, spiking at the kickoff just after 9pm.

Another peak - though much smaller, indicating a tense crowd - came after Tony Woodcock scored a try in the 14th minute, followed by a tiny spike as Piri Weepu missed the conversion.

Shortly before 10.30pm, the crowd again went wild when France missed a penalty kick which would have put them in the lead.

Then as the final whistle blew, signalling the All Blacks' World Cup victory, the recording spiked right through until the end of the post-match speeches.

The scale used to measure the movement of the earth is similar to the Richter scale which measures the strength of earthquakes, but on a tiny scale. The loudest point during Sunday's game would have registered less than one thousandth of the 2.9 earthquake that struck Auckland in July.

But the loudest cheer of all was scientifically proven to be when All Black captain Richie McCaw received the Webb Ellis Cup and raised it in the air in triumph.

Auckland University geophysics technician Annie Zaino said the seismometer data showed the earth really shakes when a try is scored at Eden Park.

"It really is quite beautiful data,'' she said.

In 2008, the reconstruction of Eden Park gave an opportunity for the Institute of Earth Science and Engineering to bury two seismometers at 25 metres and 450 metres down a borehole. Data from the deepest instrument has not yet been recovered.

The president of the Eden Park Neighbours Association, Mark Donnelly, said the spikes in crowd noise were just as noticeable outside the stadium as they were 25m beneath it.

"The awarding of the trophy was obviously very noticeable,'' he said.

What was more noticeable for those outside the stadium, was the quiet during the second half when everyone was too tense to move, Mr Donnelly said.

Ms Zaino said that during the final, she took notes at each significant moment during the match so she could match it to the data.

"It's actually really impressive, you can see right from the moment the fans start coming into the stadium. They're making enough noise for that to register.''

The seismic team at Auckland University did a trial run during last Friday's bronze final match between Australia and Wales.

"But it was nowhere near as significant and you definitely couldn't see the excitement associated with the individual tries and the individual goals,'' Ms Zaino said.

The Eden Park seismic borehole is linked to a network of 11 seismometers in Auckland, including six in boreholes.

- Amelia Wade, New Zealand Herald

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