Seismic wave travel paths

A schematic highlighting the travel paths of seismic waves through the Earth’s interior. Seismic waves travelling through the Earth follow a curving path due to changes in composition, pressure, and temperature within the layers of the Earth. They follow the same laws of refraction and reflection at interfaces as others waves. When they encounter boundaries between different media, the waves behave according to Snell’s law, with the resulting angle of refraction across the boundary depending on the velocity difference between the two media. Seismic wave arrivals, and the lack of arrivals of direct S- and P-waves, at distant seismic stations have taught us that there are multiple layers within the Earth.

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