Types of seismic waves created by an earthquake include P-waves and S-waves that travel throught the earth as well as surface waves, which can cause a lot of damage at the Earth's surface.
Courtesy of USGS
Seismic Waves: Moving and Shaking During an Earthquake
During an earthquake, the ground shakes making it difficult or impossible to stand up without falling. The land can also roll in waves – sinking in some places and rising in others. How does all this moving and shaking happen? During an earthquake, energy is released in seismic waves that travel outward from the center of the earthquake.
There are different types of seismic waves. Each type of seismic wave has a special way of moving.
Some seismic waves can travel deep within the Earth. These are called body waves.
- One type of body wave is very fast. As it travels rock is squished together and then stretched apart over and over again. It can travel through solid rock and molten liquid layers of the Earth.
- The other type of body wave is slower and rock is shifted up and down or side to side as it travels foreword. This type of seismic wave can only travel through solid rock.
Some seismic waves travel over the Earth’s surface. These are called surface waves.
- The fastest surface waves move the ground from side to side.
- Other, slower waves travel like ocean waves over the surface of the Earth, moving the ground surface up and down. Most of the shaking that people feel during an earthquake is from these waves.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist
, focuses on rocks and minerals, including articles on minerals and mining, the use of minerals in society, and rare earth minerals, and includes 3 posters!
You might also be interested in:
The ground underfoot might seem like it’s not going anywhere but it is. It moves. If it moves all of a sudden the ground shakes. That’s an earthquake! Earthquakes happen as pieces of the Earth’s crust...more
Most people in San Francisco, CA were still asleep when an earthquake shook them awake early in the morning of April 18, 1906. It was a very strong earthquake. It lasted for only about a minute, but caused...more
Spotting minerals is fun! There are many different types of minerals. Each has a different name and special traits. You can learn more about minerals by looking closely at them to understand their special...more
This mineral is called quartz! Sometimes it looks white like milk but usually it looks clear like glass, sometimes with a little pink or gray tinge of color. You can find crystals of quartz in many different...more
Mica minerals make some rocks sparkle! Look for them in your igneous and metamorphic rocks. Do they make your rocks sparkle? They break into flat plates because they have cleavage. ...more
This is a feldspar mineral! Look for it in igneous rocks where it looks like white or pink crystals. You might find it in other types of rocks as well. ...more
The mineral that is green is called olivine! Look for it in igneous and metamorphic rocks. In this picture, olivine is filling a hole in the igneous rock. ...more