Table 1:  Seismic Waves – Rayleigh wave        Back

R, Rayleigh, Surface waves, Long waves, Ground roll

Particle Motion

Typical Velocity

Other Characteristics

Motion is both in the direction of propagation and perpendicular (in a vertical plane), and  “phased” so that the motion is generally elliptical – either prograde or retrograde.

VR ~ 2.0 - 4.2 km/s in the Earth depending on frequency of the propagating wave, and therefore the depth of penetration of the waves.

Rayleigh waves are also dispersive and the amplitudes generally decrease with depth in the Earth.  Appearance and particle motion are similar to water waves.  Depth of penetration of the Rayleigh waves is also dependent on frequency, with lower frequencies penetrating to greater depth.