**Wave propagation** is any of the ways in which waves travel.

- Reflection of plane waves in a half-space
- SV wave propagation
- P wave propagation
- Wave velocity
- See also
- References
- External links

With respect to the direction of the oscillation relative to the propagation direction, we can distinguish between longitudinal wave and transverse waves.

For electromagnetic waves, propagation may occur in a vacuum as well as in the material medium. Other wave types cannot propagate through a vacuum and need a transmission medium to exist.

The propagation and reflection of plane waves—e.g. Pressure waves (P-wave) or Shear waves (SH or SV-waves) are phenomena that were first characterized within the field of classical seismology, and are now considered fundamental concepts in modern seismic tomography. The analytical solution to this problem exists and is well known. The frequency domain solution can be obtained by first finding the Helmholtz decomposition of the displacement field, which is then substituted into the wave equation. From here, the plane wave eigenmodes can be calculated.

The analytical solution of SV-wave in a half-space indicates that the plane SV wave reflects back to the domain as a P and SV waves, leaving out special cases. The angle of the reflected SV wave is identical to the incidence wave, while the angle of the reflected P wave is greater than the SV wave. For the same wave frequency, the SV wavelength is smaller than the P wavelength. This fact has been depicted in this animated picture. ^{ [1] }

Similar to the SV wave, the P incidence, in general, reflects as the P and SV wave. There are some special cases where the regime is different.

Wave velocity is a general concept, of various kinds of wave velocities, for a wave's phase and speed concerning energy (and information) propagation. The phase velocity is given as:

where:

*v*_{p}is the phase velocity (in meters per second, m/s),*ω*is the angular frequency (in radians per second, rad/s),*k*is the wavenumber (in radians per meter, rad/m).

The phase speed gives you the speed at which a point of constant phase of the wave will travel for a discrete frequency. The angular frequency *ω* cannot be chosen independently from the wavenumber *k*, but both are related through the dispersion relationship:

In the special case *Ω*(*k*) = *ck*, with *c* a constant, the waves are called non-dispersive, since all frequencies travel at the same phase speed *c*. For instance electromagnetic waves in vacuum are non-dispersive. In case of other forms of the dispersion relation, we have dispersive waves. The dispersion relationship depends on the medium through which the waves propagate and on the type of waves (for instance electromagnetic, sound or water waves).

The speed at which a resultant wave packet from a narrow range of frequencies will travel is called the group velocity and is determined from the gradient of the dispersion relation:

In almost all cases, a wave is mainly a movement of energy through a medium. Most often, the group velocity is the velocity at which the energy moves through this medium.

**Frequency** is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also occasionally referred to as temporal frequency to emphasize the contrast to spatial frequency, and ordinary frequency to emphasize the contrast to angular frequency. Frequency is measured in hertz (Hz) which is equal to one event per second. The **period** is the duration of time of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. For example: if a newborn baby's heart beats at a frequency of 120 times a minute, its period, *T*—the time interval between beats—is half a second. Frequency is an important parameter used in science and engineering to specify the rate of oscillatory and vibratory phenomena, such as mechanical vibrations, audio signals (sound), radio waves, and light.

The **group velocity** of a wave is the velocity with which the overall envelope shape of the wave's amplitudes—known as the *modulation* or *envelope* of the wave—propagates through space.

The **phase velocity** of a wave is the rate at which the wave propagates in some medium. This is the velocity at which the phase of any one frequency component of the wave travels. For such a component, any given phase of the wave will appear to travel at the phase velocity. The phase velocity is given in terms of the wavelength λ (lambda) and time period T as

In physics, the **wavelength** is the **spatial period** of a periodic wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats. It is the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase on the wave, such as two adjacent crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a characteristic of both traveling waves and standing waves, as well as other spatial wave patterns. The inverse of the wavelength is called the spatial frequency. Wavelength is commonly designated by the Greek letter *lambda* (λ). The term *wavelength* is also sometimes applied to modulated waves, and to the sinusoidal envelopes of modulated waves or waves formed by interference of several sinusoids.

In physics, mathematics, and related fields, a **wave** is a propagating dynamic disturbance of one or more quantities, sometimes as described by a wave equation. In physical waves, at least two field quantities in the wave medium are involved. Waves can be periodic, in which case those quantities oscillate repeatedly about an equilibrium (resting) value at some frequency. When the entire waveform moves in one direction it is said to be a *traveling wave*; by contrast, a pair of superimposed periodic waves traveling in opposite directions makes a *standing wave*. In a standing wave, the amplitude of vibration has nulls at some positions where the wave amplitude appears smaller or even zero.

The **propagation constant** of a sinusoidal electromagnetic wave is a measure of the change undergone by the amplitude and phase of the wave as it propagates in a given direction. The quantity being measured can be the voltage, the current in a circuit, or a field vector such as electric field strength or flux density. The propagation constant itself measures the change per unit length, but it is otherwise dimensionless. In the context of two-port networks and their cascades, **propagation constant **measures the change undergone by the source quantity as it propagates from one port to the next.

**Longitudinal waves** are waves in which the vibration of the medium is parallel to the direction the wave travels and displacement of the medium is in the same direction of the wave propagation. Mechanical longitudinal waves are also called *compressional* or **compression waves**, because they produce compression and rarefaction when traveling through a medium, and **pressure waves**, because they produce increases and decreases in pressure. A wave along the length of a stretched Slinky toy, where the distance between coils increases and decreases, is a good visualization. Real-world examples include sound waves and seismic P-waves.

In the physical sciences, the **wavenumber** is the spatial frequency of a wave, measured in cycles per unit distance or radians per unit distance. Whereas temporal frequency can be thought of as the number of waves per unit time, wavenumber is the number of waves per unit distance.

In optics, **dispersion** is the phenomenon in which the phase velocity of a wave depends on its frequency. Media having this common property may be termed *dispersive media*. Sometimes the term ** chromatic dispersion** is used for specificity. Although the term is used in the field of optics to describe light and other electromagnetic waves, dispersion in the same sense can apply to any sort of wave motion such as acoustic dispersion in the case of sound and seismic waves, in gravity waves, and for telecommunication signals along transmission lines or optical fiber. Physically, dispersion translates in a loss of kinetic energy through absorption.

A **sine wave** or **sinusoid** is a mathematical curve that describes a smooth periodic oscillation. A sine wave is a continuous wave. It is named after the function sine, of which it is the graph. It occurs often in both pure and applied mathematics, as well as physics, engineering, signal processing and many other fields. Its most basic form as a function of time (*t*) is:

In the physical sciences and electrical engineering, **dispersion relations** describe the effect of dispersion on the properties of waves in a medium. A dispersion relation relates the wavelength or wavenumber of a wave to its frequency. Given the dispersion relation, one can calculate the phase velocity and group velocity of waves in the medium, as a function of frequency. In addition to the geometry-dependent and material-dependent dispersion relations, the overarching Kramers–Kronig relations describe the frequency dependence of wave propagation and attenuation.

An **optical medium** is material through which electromagnetic waves propagate. It is a form of transmission medium. The permittivity and permeability of the medium define how electromagnetic waves propagate in it. The medium has an *intrinsic impedance*, given by

In fluid dynamics, **dispersion** of water waves generally refers to frequency dispersion, which means that waves of different wavelengths travel at different phase speeds. Water waves, in this context, are waves propagating on the water surface, with gravity and surface tension as the restoring forces. As a result, water with a free surface is generally considered to be a dispersive medium.

The **electromagnetic wave equation** is a second-order partial differential equation that describes the propagation of electromagnetic waves through a medium or in a vacuum. It is a three-dimensional form of the wave equation. The homogeneous form of the equation, written in terms of either the electric field **E** or the magnetic field **B**, takes the form:

In fluid dynamics, **Airy wave theory** gives a linearised description of the propagation of gravity waves on the surface of a homogeneous fluid layer. The theory assumes that the fluid layer has a uniform mean depth, and that the fluid flow is inviscid, incompressible and irrotational. This theory was first published, in correct form, by George Biddell Airy in the 19th century.

**Precursors** are characteristic wave patterns caused by dispersion of an impulse's frequency components as it propagates through a medium. Classically, precursors precede the main signal, although in certain situations they may also follow it. Precursor phenomena exist for all types of waves, as their appearance is only predicated on the prominence of dispersion effects in a given mode of wave propagation. This non-specificity has been confirmed by the observation of precursor patterns in different types of electromagnetic radiation as well as in fluid surface waves and seismic waves.

Seismic inversion involves the set of methods which seismologists use to infer properties through physical measurements. **Surface-wave inversion** is the method by which elastic properties, density, and thickness of layers in the subsurface are obtained through analysis of surface-wave dispersion. The entire inversion process requires the gathering of seismic data, the creation of dispersion curves, and finally the inference of subsurface properties.

In physics and engineering, the **envelope** of an oscillating signal is a smooth curve outlining its extremes. The envelope thus generalizes the concept of a constant amplitude into an *instantaneous amplitude*. The figure illustrates a modulated sine wave varying between an *upper envelope* and a *lower envelope*. The envelope function may be a function of time, space, angle, or indeed of any variable.

**Mathematical Q models** provide a model of the earth's response to seismic waves. In reflection seismology, the **anelastic attenuation factor**, often expressed as **seismic quality factor** or **Q**, which is inversely proportional to attenuation factor, quantifies the effects of anelastic attenuation on the seismic wavelet caused by fluid movement and grain boundary friction. When a plane wave propagates through a homogeneous viscoelastic medium, the effects of amplitude attenuation and velocity dispersion may be combined conveniently into the single dimensionless parameter, Q. As a seismic wave propagates through a medium, the elastic energy associated with the wave is gradually absorbed by the medium, eventually ending up as heat energy. This is known as absorption and will eventually cause the total disappearance of the seismic wave.

In physics, a **sinusoidal****plane wave** is a special case of plane wave: a field whose value varies as a sinusoidal function of time and of the distance from some fixed plane.

- ↑ The animations are taken from Poursartip, Babak (2015). "Topographic amplification of seismic waves". UT Austin.

- Crawford jr., Frank S. (1968).
*Waves (Berkeley Physics Course, Vol. 3)*, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 978-0070048607 Free online version - A. E. H. Love.
*A Treatise on The Mathematical Theory of Elasticity*. New York: Dover. - E.W. Weisstein. "Wave velocity".
*ScienceWorld*. Retrieved 2009-05-30.

- Media related to Wave propagation at Wikimedia Commons
- A matlab toolbox for seismic wave propagation at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
- Animation How an electromagnetic wave propagates through a vacuum
- Propagation of sound waves

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