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An experimental pulse technique has been developed permitting rapid measurement of absolute surface wave velocity on single crystals to an accuracy of 1 percent or better. A further modification of the technique allows measurement of parts per million changes in surface wave time delay caused by changes in substrate temperature. The technique directly measures the vertical component of particle velocity at the receiver as a function of time and enables one to distinguish clearly between the various types of surface modes, e.g., Rayleigh wave, pseudosurface wave, etc. The method is applicable to any material.