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In seismology, a microseism is defined as a faint earth tremor caused by natural phenomena. Sometimes referred to as a "hum", it should not be confused with the anomalous acoustic phenomenon of the same name. The term is most commonly used to refer to the dominant background seismic and electromagnetic noise signals on Earth, which are caused by water waves in the oceans and lakes. Characteristics of microseism are discussed by Bhatt. Because the ocean wave oscillations are statistically homogenous over several hours, the microseism signal is a long-continuing oscillation of the ground. The most energetic seismic waves that make up the microseismic field are Rayleigh waves, but Love waves can make up a significant fraction of the wave field, and body waves are also easily detected with arrays. Because the conversion from the ocean waves to the seismic waves is very weak, the amplitude of ground motions associated to microseisms does not generally exceed 10 micrometers. Microseisms are very well detected and measured by means of a broad-band seismograph, and can be recorded anywhere on Earth. Dominant microseism signals from the oceans are linked to characteristic ocean swell periods, and thus occur between approximately 4 to 30 seconds. Microseismic noise usually displays two predominant peaks. The weaker is for the larger periods, typically close to 16 s, and can be explained by the effect of surface gravity waves in shallow water. These microseisms have the same period as the water waves that generate them, and are usually called 'primary microseisms'. The stronger peak, for shorter periods, is also due to surface gravity waves in water, but arises from the interaction of waves with nearly equal frequencies but nearly opposite directions. These tremors have a period which is half of the water wave period and are usually called secondary microseisms'. A slight, but detectable, incessant excitation of the Earths free oscillations, or normal modes, with periods in the range 30 to 1000 s, and is often referred to as the "Earth hum". For periods up to 300 s, the vertical displacement corresponds to Rayleigh waves generated like the primary microseisms, with the difference that it involves the interaction of infragravity waves with the ocean bottom topography. The dominant sources of this vertical hum component are likely located along the shelf break, the transition region between continental shelves and the abyssal plains.

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