Q:

What causes seismic waves?

A:

Quick Answer

Seismic waves occur from actions within the Earth's core, including breaking and splitting rocks, explosions and volcanic eruptions. Seismic waves occur on land and in the ocean; they exist in two primary forms — surface waves and body waves. Body waves travel underground, below the Earth's surface, while surface waves travel across the surface.

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Full Answer

Actions triggering seismic waves also determine their frequency and strength. Earthquakes, common sources of seismic waves, generate surface and body waves. Large earthquakes produce waves of greater force and length. Some geologists refer to seismic waves as ambient waves, as they derive from low-frequency energy sources. Seismic waves come in the form of primary waves and secondary waves. Secondary waves follow larger primary waves, delivering less force and power.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the definition of "seismic activity"?

    A:

    "Seismic activity" is defined as the vibration of the ground due to the release of elastic energy from the breakage of rock within the earth or an explosion. The phenomenon is commonly referred to as an earthquake, but while seismic waves can be either body waves or surface waves, an earthquake radiates seismic energy as both types of waves.

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  • Q:

    What are three types of earthquake waves?

    A:

    The three types of earthquake waves are primary waves, secondary waves and surface waves. Primary waves are referred to as P waves, and secondary waves are called S waves. P waves and S waves move past Earth's crust, which is why they are also called body waves.

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  • Q:

    What causes earthquakes?

    A:

    The surface of the earth is called the crust, and it is made up of plates, called tectonic plates, that move. Earthquakes happen when these plates bump, scrape or drag against each other.

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  • Q:

    What causes an earthquake?

    A:

    Earthquakes occur when two blocks of Earth's crust slip past each other suddenly. Tectonic plates fit together like pieces of a puzzle and are continually moving. The edges of tectonic plates are rough and sometimes stick, causing an earthquake when they break free.

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