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This summary contains formulas (***) which can not be displayed on the screenA general principle outlined by P. Curie (1894) regarding the influence of symmetry in physical phenomena states, in modern language, that the symmetry group of the causes is a sub-group of the symmetry group of the effects. For instance, regarding stress-induced seismic anisotropy, the most complex symmetry exhibited by an initially isotropic medium when tri-axially stressed is orthorhombic, or orthotropic, symmetry characterized by three symmetry planes mutually perpendicular (Nur, 1971). In other respects, Schwartz et al. (1994) demonstrated that two very different rock models, namely a cracked model and a weakly consolidated granular model, always lead to elliptical anisotropy when uniaxially stressed. The addressed questions are : Is this result true for any rock model? and more generally : Do initially isotropic rock form a well-defined sub-set of orthorhombic media when triaxially stressed?Under the hypothesis of 3rd order nonlinear isotropic hyperelasticity (i. e. , no hysteresis and existence of an elastic energy function developed to the 3rd order in the strain components) it is demonstrated that the qP-wave stress-induced anisotropy is always ellipsoidal, for any strength of anisotropy. For instance point sources generate ellipsoidal qP-wave fronts. This result is general and absolutely independent of the rock model, that is to say independent of the causes of nonlinearity, as far as the initial assumptions are verified. This constitutes the main result of this paper. Thurston (1965) pointed out that an initially isotropic elastic medium, when non-isotropically pre-stressed, is never strictly equivalent to an unstressed anisotropic crystal. For instance the components of the stressed elastic tensor lack the familiar symmetry with respect to indices permutation. This would prohibit Voigt's notation of contracted indices. However if the magnitude of the components of the stress deviator is small compared to the wave moduli, which is always verified in practical situations of seismic exploration, the perfect equivalence is re-established. Under this condition, the 9 elastic stiffnesses C'ij (in contracted notation) of an initially isotropic solid, when triaxially stressed, are always linked by 3 ellipticity conditions in the coordinate planes associated with the eigen directions of the static pre-stress, namely :(***)Thus only 6 of the 9 elastic stiffnesses of the orthorhombic stressed solid are independent (Nikitin and Chesnokov, 1981), and are simple functions of the eigen stresses, and of the 2 linear (2nd order) and the 3 nonlinear (3rd order) elastic constants of the unstressed isotropic solid. Furthermore, given the state of pre-stress, the strength of the stress-induced P- or S-wave anisotropy and S-wave birefringence (but not the magnitude of the wave moduli themselves) are determined by only 2 intrinsic parameters of the medium, one for the P-wave and one for the S-waves. Isotropic elastic media, when triaxially stressed, constitute a special sub-set of orthorhombic media, here called ellipsoidal media , verifying the above conditions. Ellipsoidal anisotropy is the natural generalization of elliptical anisotropy. Ellipsoidal anisotropy is to orthorhombic symmetry what elliptical anisotropy is to transversely isotropic (TI) symmetry. Elliptical anisotropy is a special case of ellipsoidal anisotropy restricted to TI media. In other words, ellipsoidal anisotropy degenerates in elliptical anisotropy in TI media. In ellipsoidal media the qP-wave slowness surface is always an ellipsoid. The S-wave slowness surfaces are not ellipsoidal, except in the degenerate elliptical case, and have to be considered as a single double-valued self-intersecting sheet (Helbig, 1994). The intersections of these latter surfaces with the coordinate planes are either ellipses, for the S-vave polarized out of the coordinate planes, or circles, for the qS-wave polarized in the coordinate planes. The nearly exhaustive collection of experimental data on seismic anisotropy in rocks (considered as transverse isotropic) by Thomsen (1986) show that elliptical anisotropy is more an exception than a rule. Since stress-induced anisotropy is essentially elliptical when restricted to transversely isotropic media, as a consequence this work clearly shows that stress can be practically excluded as a unique direct cause of elastic anisotropy in rocks.