England Shaken By Rayleigh Waves

According to the Daily Telegraph, about 30 million pounds of damage was caused by the earthquake in England last night.

As it happens, the aspect of an Earthquake that causes the most shaking are the Rayleigh waves, named after Lord Rayleigh, as explained on a geological website:

The other kind of surface wave is the Rayleigh wave, named for John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh, who mathematically predicted the existence of this kind of wave in 1885.

A Rayleigh wave rolls along the ground just like a wave rolls across a lake or an ocean.

Because it rolls, it moves the ground up and down, and side-to-side in the same direction that the wave is moving. Most of the shaking felt from an earthquake is due to the Rayleigh wave, which can be much larger than the other waves.

Clever chap, that Lord Rayleigh. Not only did he explain why the sky is blue, he explained how earthquakes cause damage too….. Here’s Simon Schaffer talking about him: