Features of a wave

A standard set of terminology is used to describe the feature of waves. The following illustration shows a cross-section through a transverse wave*. Switches below the main window can be used to label the following features:
  • Crest - the highest point in the wave.
  • Trough - the lowest point in the wave.
  • Wavelength* - the horizontal distance between successive crests, troughs or other parts of a wave.
  • Wave height - the vertical distance between the crest of a wave and its neighboring trough. This term is commonly used when describing water waves where the undisturbed surface is not easily determined.
  • Amplitude* - the amount of displacement from the equilibrium or rest position. Equal to one half the wave height.
  • Undisturbed surface - resting state or equilibrium position of medium in the absence of a wave.
  • Period* - the time it takes for successive crests or troughs to pass a specific point.
  • Frequency* - the inverse of period.The number of crests or troughs that pass a point during a set time interval.
A video demonstration of the illustration can be found below the illustration.You can also test your understanding with Features of a wave concept questions.

Wavelength: 10 m
Waveheight: 10 m
Amplitude: 5 m


Video demonstration

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