As for RIPPLES, we should probably add SURFACE TENSION as yet another restoring force besides gravity that might be relevant. For waves with larger wave-lengths, we may ignore the surface tension, but ripples have fairly short wave lengths.
You can also think of the peridicity as a resultant of the medium that is being disturbed wishing to return back to it's undisturbed state. When you throw a stone into the water, the water is disturbed by the addition of energy. That energuy goes into making a wave. The water has resisitive forces which try to balance the added energy.
Actually the surface waves on water are kind of different from surface waves on land aren't they? On water they are evenly spaced because the surface is bobbing up and down periodically as a result of the initial disturbance which spreads out carrying information/energy in a big circle. I'd imagine that the surface tension is very important here.
On land the surface waves are caused by supercritical incoming seismic waves which combine and move along at a group velocity. I was thinking they were probably the same as ripples in some way, but of course s-waves can't travel in a fluid and ripples as far as I am aware are not associated with any strain, just particle displacement.
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