Most of the knowledge we have about Earth’s deep interior comes from the fact that seismic waves penetrate the Earth and are recorded on the other side. Earthquake ray paths and arrival times are more complex than illustrated in the animations, because velocity in the Earth does not simply increase with depth. Velocities generally increase downward, according to Snell’s Law, bending rays away from the vertical between layers on their downward journey; velocity generally decreases upward in layers, so that rays bend toward the vertical as they travel out of the Earth . Snell’s Law also dictates that rays bend abruptly inward at the mantle/outercore boundary (sharp velocity decrease in the liquid) and outward at the outer core/inner core boundary (sharp velocity increase).
Major Points to remember about P S and Love waves
- P wave or primary wave. This is the fastest kind of seismic wave, and, consequently, the first to ‘arrive’ at a seismic station.
- The P wave can move through solid rock and fluids, like water or the liquid layers of the earth.
- P waves are also known as compressional waves.
- S waveor secondary wave, which is the second wave you feel in an earthquake. An S wave is slower than a P wave and can only move through solid rock, not through any liquid medium.
- Travelling only through the crust, surface wavesare of a lower frequency than body waves, and are easily distinguished on a seismogram as a result.
Earth’s Layers – Earth’s Composition
The Crust of Earth
It is the outermost and the thinnest layer of the earth’s surface, about 8 to 40 km thick. The crust varies greatly in thickness and composition – as small as 5 km thick in some places beneath the oceans, while under some mountain ranges it extends up to 70 km in depth.
The crust is made up of two layers an upper lighter layer called the Sial (Silicate + Aluminium) and a lower density layer called Sima (Silicate + Magnesium).The average density of this layer is 3 gm/cc.
The Mantle of Earth
This layer extends up to a depth of 2900 km.
Mantle is made up of 2 parts: Upper Mantle or Asthenosphere (up to about 500 km) and Lower Mantle. Asthenosphere is in a semimolten plastic state, and it is thought that this enables the lithosphere to move about it. Within the asthenosphere, the velocity of seismic waves is considerably reduced (Called ‘Low Velocity
The line of separation between the mantle and the crust is known as Mohoviricic Discontinuity.
The Core of Earth
Beyond a depth of 2900 km lies the core of the earth.The outer core is 2100 km thick and is in molten form due to excessive heat out there. Inner core is 1370 km thick and is in plasticform due to the combined factors of excessive heat and pressure. It is made up of iron and nickel (Nife) and is responsible for earth’s magnetism. This layer has the maximum specific gravity.The temperatures in the earth’s core lie between 2200°c and 2750°c. The line of separation between the mantle and the core is called GutenbergWiechert Discontinuity.