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Designing a pure compressional source in elastic media is not an easy task, even in laboratory conditions—in practice marine seismic corresponds to the only situation where pure P wave sources are operated. Once a so-called P source is coupled withe an elastic material, any difference between the actual environment and a perfect spherical symmetry generates shear stresses, thus shear waves. For example, SH waves have been observed from explosions near the boundary of two media that present large impedance contrasts (Shtivelman, 1978).

A similar problem appears for designing shear sources, which should be seen as sources emitting preferably shear waves, or, in other words, minimizing the P wave emission. An additional problem with shear sources appears with coupling, as shear modes may cause lateral sliding, while compression does not.

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