Main menu Help Site map Glossary Search
Seismic waves
Previous Up Next

Seismic waves
'P' and 'S' waves explored
Seismometers - 'P' waves
Seismometers - 'S' waves
Seismometer traces
Waves through solids and liquids
Waves through the Earth
Measuring the Earth's core
Shadow zones
Location of an epicentre - 1
Location of an epicentre - 2

Tom Metcalfe, De la Salle School, Liverpool
John Drake, Our Lady's High School, Liverpool

Seismic waves are transmitted through the Earth.  The study of such waves provides information about the layered Earth structure and can be used to accurately determine the epicentre of earthquakes.

Learning outcomes

After completing this section, you should be able to:

differentiate between 'P' and 'S' waves;
state which of the two types cannot travel through liquids;
describe how seismometers can detect 'P' and 'S' waves;
explain how data from seismometers all over the Earth's surface enable scientists to model the path of waves through the Earth;
explain how earthquake "shadow zones" are formed;
describe how shadow zones provide information about the Earth's structure; and
estimate sizes for the Earth's inner and outer core's.

Assumed prior knowledge

It is assumed that you have knowledge of the following concepts:

longitudinal and transverse waves and refraction;
that waves transfer energy, but not matter; and
that earthquakes are caused by the relative movement of two parts of the Earth's crust (or upper mantle).

Materials Teaching Educational Resources
1999 MATTER Project, The University of Liverpool

ESF flagSupported by the European Social Fund under
the Objective One programme for Merseyside