Internal Solitons in the Andaman Sea

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Science  02 May 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4443, pp. 451-460
DOI: 10.1126/science.208.4443.451


The solitary wave is a localized hydrodynamic phenomenon that can occur because of a balance between nonlinear cohesive and linear dispersive forces in a fluid. It has been shown theoretically, and observed experimentally, that some solitary waves have properties analogous to those of elementary particles, and the waves have therefore been named solitons. During a measurement program in the Andaman Sea near northern Sumatra, large-amplitude, long internal waves were observed with associated surface waves called tide rips. Using theoretical results from the physics of nonlinear waves, it is shown that the internal waves are solitons and their interactions with surface waves are described.