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A Brief Note On What Is Wave Motion?

Energy has a great role in wave motion that carries the motion like earthquake energy that is directly seen to manifest churning of coastline waves.

Wave motion is associated with the disturbances that propagate from an inertial state of rest or equilibrium and attains a significant state of motion. It moves from one point to the other in an organised manner. The most prominent wave motion can be noticed in the water bodies through the ripples and tides. Wave motion can also be termed as the transference of energy from one point of the medium to the other end of it. The wave motions are further classified in terms of their medium of propagation, the particular dimension in which the waves are propagating their significant energy and the type of energy that is being transferred. 

Energy in wave motion: discussion

Wave motion is termed as the transference of energy that travels from one point of the object to the other point. All the waves carry a significant amount of energy. Some of the energy however is visible to all, for example, earthquakes. Wave motion mainly focuses on the energy transmission from one point to another. The amount of energy thus being carried by the wave is directly dependent upon the amplitude. Therefore, high amplitude denotes the prevalence of high energy and a similar effect goes for the cases of lower energies. Based on the transfer of energy the wave motion can be classified into two parts.

  • Stationary waves: it is referred to the waves that are enclosed within a particular region that does not exhibit any notion of transfer of energy
  • Progressive waves:  these waves enable the propagation of energy and momentum between the particles of the medium involved. 

Momentum in wave motion: discussion

Wave motion is dependent upon the transference of momentum in between the points of the medium involved. In the case of momentum transfer, the most notable course of action is noticed through two types of motion. The first being the stationary motion, in this case, wave motion is confined within the boundaries of a particular medium and thus the wave does not propagate from one point to the other. Hence, the transference of the momentum is mostly stagnant and in the other case being progressive motion. In this case wave motion travels from one point of the medium to the other point thereby exhibiting a propagation of momentum in the cases of the wave motion.

Medium of propagation

The medium of propagation is a key factor for the influence of wave motion and its propagation and therefore it is essential to note the cases of the medium of solid, liquid and gas. The pattern of wave motion also alters in respect of the particles involved and the composition of the medium.  Based on the medium of propagation the waves of the motion are subdivided into a few key categories.

  • Longitudinal waves: Longitudinal waves are associated with the wave motion that travels from one point to the other and influences the particles to move discipline in a to-and-fro motion concerning the motion of the wave. The key example of this wave motion can be noted in the primary waves of the earthquakes. The primary waves travel with the fastest velocity and are the first to arrive.
  • Transverse waves: In the case of this wave motion, the particle oscillates within its point from top to bottom. In transverse waves, the energy transference occurs from left to right. The secondary earthquake waves exhibit transverse wave motion moving slower than primary waves.
  • Water waves: These waves are noted in water and also propagate the highest amount of energy. These waves contain the properties of both longitudinal waves and transverse waves.  The particles in this wave motion attain a clockwise circular path.
  • Rayleigh surface waves: In this wave, the particles attain an elliptical path of motion. In the Rayleigh surface of a solid medium, with the passage of waves the particles move in a counter-clock direction. 


In the wave motion, both the aspect of energy and motion are taken into context to analyse its pathway of propagation. Wave motion is the transference of energy and momentum concerning the particles involved from start point to the endpoint. Energy transfer occurs through the propagation of the waves and is dependent on kinetic and potential energy. The summation of kinetic and potential energy associated with a wave determines total energy of the wave.


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