# Do S Waves Travel Through Liquid?

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## Can P and S waves travel through liquids?

In a P wave, the rock particles are alternately squished together and pulled apart (called compressions and dilatations), so P waves are also called compressional waves. These waves can travel through solids, liquids, and gases. P waves can travel through the liquid outer core. An S wave is a different beast.

## Can S waves travel through solids?

P waves are compressional waves. Therefore, they too can travel through solids, liquids and gases. Shear waves can travel only through solids. Thus, S waves (which are a type of shear wave)will travel through solids and but will be absorbed by liquids and gases.

## Do S waves travel through the mantle?

P-waves pass through both mantle and core, but are slowed and refracted at the mantle / core boundary at a depth of 2900 km. S-waves passing from the mantle to the core are absorbed because shear waves cannot be transmitted through liquids. This is evidence that the outer core does not behave like a solid substance.

## Why do P waves and S waves travel in a curved path?

The waves are refracted as they travel through the Earth due to a change in density of the medium. This causes the waves to travel in curved paths. When the waves cross the boundary between two different layers, there is a sudden change in direction due to refraction.

## Why do S waves cause more damage than P waves?

S waves travel typically 60% of the speed of P waves. They are typically more damaging than the P waves because they are several times higher in amplitude. Earthquakes also produce surface waves which may cause motion perpendicular to the surface or parallel to the surface.

## Why do S waves not travel through liquid?

S-waves cannot travel through liquids. When they reach the surface they cause horizontal shaking. Liquids don’t have any shear strength and so a shear wave cannot propagate through a liquid.

## How do S waves travel?

An S wave is slower than a P wave and can only move through solid rock, not through any liquid medium. S waves move rock particles up and down, or side-to-side–perpendicular to the direction that the wave is traveling in (the direction of wave propagation). Click here to see a S wave in action.

## What can S waves pass through?

S-waves passing from the mantle to the core are absorbed because shear waves cannot be transmitted through liquids. This is evidence that the outer core does not behave like a solid substance. S-waves are not transmitted through the liquid outer core.

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