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How are scientists able to identify which layers of the Earth are solid or liquid using seismic waves?
Question Date: 2012-12-16
Answer 1:

Well, when rocks break, at the point of rupture stress, different types of waves are sent out. The two of concern here are the P and the S waves. The P waves travel through solids , liquids and gases. The S waves travel only through solids. Because liquids and gases offer no resistance to shear, no S waves propagate through a liquid or gas. Hence, because the earth has a shadow zone, a region where no S waves appear, we can infer the presence of a liquid outer core.

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