What are surface waves?


Quick Answer

A surface wave is a seismic wave that occurs at or near the surface of Earth. Surface waves tend to have much longer wavelengths and larger amplitudes compared to body waves.

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Full Answer

Surface waves travel slowly, but these waves can cause a large amount of damage. According to About.com, surface waves resemble sideways shear waves (Love waves) or water waves (Rayleigh waves).These seismic waves are measured by seismologists using a seismograph or a seismometer. Surface waves are usually created by explosions and earthquakes, and they can travel the globe multiple times if the disturbance is large enough. A surface wave can be mechanical or electromagnetic.

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