critical angle | Energy Glossary

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critical angle

1. n. [Geophysics]

The angle of incidence according to Snell's law at which a refracted wave travels along the interface between two media. It can be quantified mathematically as follows:

sin θc = V1 / V2,

θc = the critical angle
V1 = velocity of the first medium
V2 = velocity of the first medium, which is greater than V1.

See: angle of incidencecritical reflectionhead waverefractionrefractorSnell's law