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Vibration generated by an earthquake, explosion, or similar phenomenon and propagated within the Earth or along its surface. Earthquakes generate two principal types of waves: body waves, which travel within the Earth, and surface waves, which travel along the surface. Seismograms (recorded traces of the amplitude and frequency of seismic waves) yield information about the Earth and its subsurface structure; artificially generated seismic waves are used in oil and gas prospecting.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on seismic wave, visit Britannica.com.
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