We used the integral equation formulation of the scattering of elastic waves to generate an approximate solution analogous to the Born approximation in quantum mechanics. This solution is attractive because of the ease with which it may be applied to scatterers of complicated shapes. We investigated the validity of the approximation by comparing it with exact results for spherical scatterers. Our conclusion for voids in elastic media is that the approximation describes well the scattering when the wavelength of the incident wave is approximately an order of magnitude larger than the scatterer and when the scattering is viewed in the backscattered directions. For many applications this range of validity is experimentally accessible. For elastic inclusions, however, where the properties of defect and host differed by 20–40%, the Born approximation is surprisingly good for all angles and even at short wavelengths.

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