Several characteristics of oceanic surface waves can be altered by the presence of low rigidity sediments along the propagation path. Love and Rayleigh waves from mid-Atlantic ridge earthquakes bear many effects of oceanic sediments. The general absence of these surface waves for periods shorter than about 15 sec can be attributed to either attenuation or scattering in thin sediments. Thin sediments also disperse short-period Love waves. Sediments whose thickness exceeds about 2 km are responsible for removing surface-wave energy with periods up to 40 sec. These sediments also alter the particle motion of Rayleigh waves and are responsible for a complicated dispersion relation. These thick sediments substantially reduce the surface-wave phase velocity at periods in excess of 100 sec.

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