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Types of Waves

There are two main types of waves, transverse and longitudinal.

 

Transverse waves 

In a transverse wave, the vibrations of the wave are at right angles to the direction of travel, a few examples of this type of wave are:

  • Ripples/waves on the surface of the water.

  • Electromagnetic waves, eg light waves, microwaves or radio waves.

  • Seismic S-waves.

A way to remember the direction of travel in transverse waves is by using the letter 'r', tRansverse, Right angles. 

Longitudinal waves

In a longitudinal wave, the vibrations of the wave travell parallel to the direction of travel, a few examples of a longitudinal wave are:

  • Seismic P-waves 

  • Ultrasound waves 

  • Sound waves 

Longitudinal waves look like this:

|   |   |  | ||| |  |   |   |  | ||| |  |   |   |

A way to remember the direction of travel is that the lines in this diagram are parallel or with the letter Parallel, seismic P-waves