How do P-waves and S-waves differ?

2 Answers
Feb 21, 2016

they are both body wave types of seismic waves


seismic waves are of two kinds, Body and surface waves. Body waves are those which travel trough a rock body or the body of layer of earth. Surface waves are those which travel in between the interface of two layers of earth. P and S waves are types of body waves. they differ from each other in speed. P-waves are the fastest waves that travel inside earth and can travel in all mediums. S- waves cannot travel in fluids as they dont have shear force.

Mar 24, 2016

P waves and S waves differ in their characteristics and manner of travel


Primary waves or P waves travel the fastest. It also travels through solids, liquids, and gases. P waves are push and pull waves, thus causes the rock particles to move back and forth.

Refer to the picture: As the P waves travel, they push rock particles into the particles ahead of them and compress them. The rock particles then bounce back. They hit the particles behind them that are being pushed forward.


Secondary waves or S waves arrive at a given point after P waves. it does not travel as fast as P waves. It travels through solids but not to liquids and gases. S waves cause rock to move from side to side. The rock particles move at right angles to the direction of the waves.