Dictionary:Reciprocity principle

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1. The seismic trace from a source at A to a geophone at B is the same as from a source at B to a geophone at A if sources and receivers are similarly coupled to the Earth. More specifically, this is Scalar Reciprocity, applicable to pure-mode (e.g. P-wave) propagation only.

For converted waves, reciprocity requires interchanging the motion senses of the sources/receivers as well as their locations.; this is Vector Reciprocity. [1]

For split shear waves, Vector Reciprocity also applies. [2]

See also main page: Reciprocity_Theorem

2. The potential at a point M with respect to a current source at A is the same as if the points of measurement and source were reversed. Applied in electrical exploration.


  1. Thomsen, L., 1999. Converted-Wave Reflection Seismology over inhomogeneous, anisotropic media, GEOPHYSICS, 64(3), 678-690.
  2. Joe Dellinger and Bertram Nolte, (1997), "A crossed‐dipole reciprocity “paradox”," The Leading Edge 16: 1465-1471.