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Seismic Wave Types

Seismic waves can also be labeled by the paths they take in the Earth.

Body waves (P or S) travel through the interior of the Earth.

Surface Waves travel along the Earth surface. Their speeds are slower and their amplitudes decrease slowly with distance compared to the body waves.

Two Kinds of Surface Waves

Love waves are pure S-type surface waves. They vibrate the ground from side-to-side with no vertical movement.

Rayleigh waves are the P and S mixture. They vibrate the ground in an elliptical pattern.

Seismic Wave Types

Surface Waves

Body Waves
  1. Large amplitude
  2. Long wavelength
  3. Wide range of frequencies (large bandwidth)
  4. Travel slowly
  5. Not produced by deep earthquakes
  1. Small amplitude
  2. Short wavelength
  3. Narrow frequency band
  4. Travel more quickly
  5. Produced by all earthquakes

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2 comments

  1. This is truly helpful, thanks.

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