In seismology, several types of surface waves are encountered. Surface waves, in this mechanical sense, are commonly known as either Love waves (L waves) or Rayleigh waves. A seismic wave is a wave that travels through the Earth, often as the result of an earthquake or explosion. Love waves have transverse motion (movement is perpendicular to the direction of travel, like light waves), whereas Rayleigh waves have both longitudinal (movement parallel to the direction of travel, like sound waves) and transverse motion. Seismic waves are studied by seismologists and measured by a seismograph or seismometer. Surface waves span a wide frequency range, and the period of waves that are most damaging is usually 10 seconds or longer. Surface waves can travel around the globe many times from the largest earthquakes. Surface waves are caused when P waves and S waves come to the surface.
In theory of hearing physiology, the traveling wave (TW) of Von Bekesy, resulted from an acoustic surface wave of the basilar membrane into the cochlear duct. His theory purported to explain every feature of the auditory sensation owing to these passive mechanical phenomena. Jozef Zwislocki, and later David Kemp, showed that that is unrealistic and that active feedback is necessary.
Ground wave refers to the propagation of radio waves parallel to and adjacent to the surface of the Earth, following the curvature of the Earth. This radiative ground wave is known as the Norton surface wave, or more properly the Norton ground wave, because ground waves in radio propagation are not confined to the surface. Another type of surface wave is the non-radiative, bound-mode Zenneck surface wave or Zenneck-Sommerfeld surface wave. The earth has one refractive index and the atmosphere has another, thus constituting an interface that supports the guided Zenneck wave's transmission. Other types of surface wave are the trapped surface wave, the gliding wave and Dyakonov surface waves (DSW) propagating at the interface of transparent materials with different symmetry. Apart from these, various types of surface waves have been studied for optical wavelengths.
Conductivity of the surface affects the propagation of ground waves, with more conductive surfaces such as sea water providing better propagation. Increasing the conductivity in a surface results in less dissipation. The refractive indices are subject to spatial and temporal changes. Since the ground is not a perfect electrical conductor, ground waves are attenuated as they follow the earth's surface. The wavefronts initially are vertical, but the ground, acting as a lossy dielectric, causes the wave to tilt forward as it travels. This directs some of the energy into the earth where it is dissipated, so that the signal decreases exponentially.
Most long-distance LF "longwave" radio communication (between 30 kHz and 300 kHz) is a result of groundwave propagation. Mediumwave radio transmissions (frequencies between 300 kHz and 3000 kHz), including AM broadcast band, travel both as groundwaves and, for longer distances at night, as skywaves. Ground losses become lower at lower frequencies, greatly increasing the coverage of AM stations using the lower end of the band. The VLF and LF frequencies are mostly used for military communications, especially with ships and submarines. The lower the frequency the better the waves penetrate sea water. ELF waves (below 3 kHz) have even been used to communicate with deeply submerged submarines.
Ground waves have been used in over-the-horizon radar, which operates mainly at frequencies between 2-20 MHz over the sea, which has a sufficiently high conductivity to convey them to and from a reasonable distance (up to 100 km or more; over-horizon radar also uses skywave propagation at much greater distances). In the development of radio, ground waves were used extensively. Early commercial and professional radio services relied exclusively on long wave, low frequencies and ground-wave propagation. To prevent interference with these services, amateur and experimental transmitters were restricted to the high frequencies (HF), felt to be useless since their ground-wave range was limited. Upon discovery of the other propagation modes possible at medium wave and short wave frequencies, the advantages of HF for commercial and military purposes became apparent. Amateur experimentation was then confined only to authorized frequencies in the range.
Mediumwave and shortwave reflect off the ionosphere at night, which is known as skywave. During daylight hours, the lower D layer of the ionosphere forms and absorbs lower frequency energy. This prevents skywave propagation from being very effective on mediumwave frequencies in daylight hours. At night, when the D layer dissipates, mediumwave transmissions travel better by skywave. Ground waves do not include ionospheric and tropospheric waves.
The propagation of sound waves through the ground taking advantage of the Earth's ability to more efficiently transmit low frequency is known as audio ground wave (AGW).
Characteristics and utilizations of the electrical surface wave phenomenon include:
The field components of the wave diminish with distance from the interface.
Electromagnetic energy is not converted from the surface wave field to another form of energy (except in leaky or lossy surface waves) such that the wave does not transmit power normal to the interface, i.e. it is evanescent along that dimension.
In coaxial cable in addition to the TEM mode there also exists a transverse-magnetic (TM) mode which propagates as a surface wave in the region around the central conductor. For coax of common impedance this mode is effectively suppressed but in high impedance coax and on a single central conductor without any outer shield, low attenuation and very broadband propagation is supported. Transmission line operation in this mode is called E-Line.
Surface plasmon polariton
The E-field of a surface plasmon polariton at an silver-air interface, at a frequency corresponding to a free-space wavelength of 10?m. At this frequency, the silver behaves approximately as a perfect electric conductor, and the SPP is called a Sommerfeld-Zenneck wave, with almost the same wavelength as the free-space wavelength.
The surface plasmon polariton (SPP) is an electromagnetic surface wave that can travel along an interface between two media with different dielectric constants. It exists under the condition that the permittivity of one of the materials  forming the interface is negative, while the other one is positive, as is the case for the interface between air and a lossy conducting medium below the plasma frequency. The wave propagates parallel to the interface and decays exponentially vertical to it, a property called evanescence. Since the wave is on the boundary of a lossy conductor and a second medium, these oscillations can be sensitive to changes to the boundary, such as the adsorption of molecules by the conducting surface.
Sommerfeld-Zenneck surface wave
The Sommerfeld-Zenneck wave or Zenneck wave is a non-radiative guided electromagnetic wave that is supported by a planar or spherical interface between two homogeneous media having different dielectric constants. This surface wave propagates parallel to the interface and decays exponentially vertical to it, a property known as evanescence. It exists under the condition that the permittivity of one of the materials forming the interface is negative, while the other one is positive, as for example the interface between air and a lossy conducting medium such as the terrestrial transmission line, below the plasma frequency. Its electric field strength falls off at a rate of e-?d/?d in the direction of propagation along the interface due to two-dimensional geometrical field spreading at a rate of 1/?d, in combination with a frequency-dependent exponential attenuation (?), which is the terrestrial transmission line dissipation, where ? depends on the medium's conductivity. Arising from original analysis by Arnold Sommerfeld and Jonathan Zenneck of the problem of wave propagation over a lossy earth, it exists as an exact solution to Maxwell's equations. The Zenneck surface wave, which is a non-radiating guided-wave mode, can be derived by employing the Hankel transform of a radial ground current associated with a realistic terrestrial Zenneck surface wave source. Sommerfeld-Zenneck surface waves predict that the energy decays as R-1 because the energy distributes over the circumference of a circle and not the surface of a sphere. Evidence does not show that in radio space wave propagation, Sommerfeld-Zenneck surfaces waves are a mode of propagation as the path-loss exponent is generally between 20 dB/dec and 40 dB/dec.
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Journals and papers
Zenneck, Sommerfeld, Norton, and Goubau
J. Zenneck, (translators: P. Blanchin, G. Guérard, É. Picot), "Précis de télégraphie sans fil : complément de l'ouvrage : Les oscillations électromagnétiques et la télégraphie sans fil", Paris : Gauthier-Villars, 1911. viii, 385 p. : ill. ; 26 cm. (Tr. "Precisions of wireless telegraphy: complement of the work: Electromagnetic oscillations and wireless telegraphy.")
J. Zenneck, "Über die Fortpflanzung ebener elektromagnetischer Wellen längs einer ebenen Leiterfläche und ihre Beziehung zur drahtlosen Telegraphie", Annalen der Physik, vol. 23, pp. 846-866, Sept. 1907. (Tr. "About the propagation of electromagnetic plane waves along a conductor plane and their relationship to wireless telegraphy.")
J. Zenneck, "Elektromagnetische Schwingungen und drahtlose Telegraphie", gart, F. Enke, 1905. xxvii, 1019 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. (Tr. "Electromagnetic oscillations and wireless telegraphy.")
J. Zenneck, (translator: A.E. Seelig) "Wireless telegraphy,", New York [etc.] McGraw-Hill Book Company, inc., 1st ed. 1915. xx, 443 p. illus., diagrs. 24 cm. LCCN 15024534 (ed. "Bibliography and notes on theory" pp. 408-428.)
A. Sommerfeld, "Propagation of waves in wireless telegraphy," Ann. Phys., vol. 81, pp. 1367-1153, 1926.
K. A. Norton, "The propagation of radio waves over the surface of the earth and in the upper atmosphere," Proc. IRE, vol. 24, pp. 1367-1387, 1936.
K. A. Norton, "The calculations of ground wave field intensity over a finitely conducting spherical earth," Proc. IRE, vol. 29, pp. 623-639, 1941.
G. Goubau, "Surface waves and their application to transmission lines," J. Appl. Phys., vol. 21, pp. 1119-1128; November,1950.
G. Goubau, "Über die Zennecksche Bodenwelle," (Tr."On the Zenneck Surface Wave."), Zeitschrift für Angewandte Physik, Vol. 3, 1951, Nrs. 3/4, pp. 103-107.
Wait, J. R., "Lateral Waves and the Pioneering Research of the Late Kenneth A Norton".
Wait, J. R., and D. A. Hill, "Excitation of the HF surface wave by vertical and horizontal apertures". Radio Science, 14, 1979, pp 767-780.
Wait, J. R., and D. A. Hill, "Excitation of the Zenneck Surface Wave by a Vertical Aperture", Radio Science, Vol. 13, No. 6, November-December, 1978, pp. 969-977.
Wait, J. R., "A note on surface waves and ground waves", IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, Nov 1965. Vol. 13, Issue 6, pp. 996-997 ISSN0096-1973
Wait, J. R., "The ancient and modern history of EM ground-wave propagation". IEEE Antennas Propagat. Mag., vol. 40, pp. 7-24, Oct. 1998.
Wait, J. R., "Appendix C: On the theory of ground wave propagation over a slightly roughned curved earth", Electromagnetic Probing in Geophysics. Boulder, CO., Golem, 1971, pp. 37-381.
Wait, J. R., "Electromagnetic surface waves", Advances in Radio Research, 1, New York, Academic Press, 1964, pp. 157-219.
R. E. Collin, "Hertzian Dipole Radiating Over a Lossy Earth or Sea: Some Early and Late 20th-Century Controversies", Antennas and Propagation Magazine, 46, 2004, pp. 64-79.
F. J. Zucker, "Surface wave antennas and surface wave excited arrays", Antenna Engineering Handbook, 2nd ed., R. C. Johnson and H. Jasik, Eds. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984.
Yu. V. Kistovich, "Possibility of Observing Zenneck Surface Waves in Radiation from a Source with a Small Vertical Aperture", Soviet Physics Technical Physics, Vol. 34, No.4, April, 1989, pp. 391-394.
V. I. Ba?bakov, V. N. Datsko, Yu. V. Kistovich, "Experimental discovery of Zenneck's surface electromagnetic waves", Sov Phys Uspekhi, 1989, 32 (4), 378-379.
Corum, K. L. and J. F. Corum, "The Zenneck Surface Wave", Nikola Tesla, Lightning Observations, and Stationary Waves, Appendix II. 1994.
M. J. King and J. C. Wiltse, "Surface-Wave Propagation on Coated or Uncoated Metal Wires at Millimeter Wavelengths". J. Appl. Phys., vol. 21, pp. 1119-1128; November,
M. J. King and J. C. Wiltse, "Surface-Wave Propagation on a Dielectric Rod of Electric Cross-Section." Electronic Communications, Inc., Tirnonium: kld. Sci. Rept.'No. 1, AFCKL Contract No. AF 19(601)-5475; August, 1960.
T. Kahan and G. Eckart, "On the Electromagnetic Surface Wave of Sommerfeld", Phys. Rev. 76, 406-410 (1949).
L.A. Ostrovsky (ed.), "Laboratory modeling and theoretical studies of surface wave modulation by a moving sphere", m, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Laboratories, 2002. OCLC50325097
Eric W. Weisstein, et al., "Surface Wave", Eric Weisstein's World of Physics, 2006.