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Re: sound waves in water

I believe Tony is correct, but there are also sound waves "on" water, which have a transverse component, as in the water waves you mentioned. This is more like the kind of wave you find at the interface between fluid and membrane in the cochlea.

I think that any kind of vibration that propagates can be called sound; for a transverse component to propagate, you need something to provide a transverse restoring force. For waves on water, gravity provides that; on the BM in the cochlea, the BM stiffness provides it. In free water with no boundaries nearby, probably you just get compression waves.


At 6:22 PM -0500 1/13/11, Antonio Miller wrote:
Sound waves in water are longitudinal (compression) waves.  The
underlying physics is the same for air and water, just the material
properties (and hence the speed of sound) of the two fluids are


On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 5:46 PM, Sarah Hargus Ferguson
<sarah.ferguson@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
 A student asked me a question the other day that¹s got me stumped:

 Sound waves in air are longitudinal, and water waves have both transverse
 and longitudinal elements. But what about sound waves in water?