Seismic Wave Motions—4 waves animated


An earthquake generates seismic waves that penetrate the Earth as body waves (P & S) or travel as surface waves (Love and Rayleigh). Each wave has a characteristic speed and style of motion. The animations below illustrate both the propogation of the wave as well as the motion of particles as the wave passes. 


Wave propogation and particle motion for...

  • Body Waves - Primary (P) & Secondary (S) Waves
  • Surface Waves - Rayleigh & Love Waves
P-wave:the primary body wave; the first seismic wave detected by seismographs; able to move through both liquid and solid rock. 
Animation Novice
S Wave—secondary body waves that oscillate the ground perpendicular to the direction of wave travel. They travel about 1.7 times slower than P waves. Because liquids will not sustain shear stresses, S waves will not travel through liquids like water, molten rock, or the Earth’s outer core. S waves produce vertical and horizontal motion in the ground surface.
Animation Novice
 Rayleigh Waves—surface waves that move in an elliptical motion, producing both a vertical and horizontal component of motion in the direction of wave propagation.  
Animation Novice
Love Waves—surface waves that move parallel to the Earth’s surface and perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation..
Animation Novice