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As a result of seems to be quite a versatile phrase, and I can't entirely figure out the contexts in which it is used. This statement is apparently wrong:

Sound can travel through water for enormous distances, its acoustic energy prevented from being dissipated as a result of boundaries in the ocean created by water layers of different temperatures and densities.

However, this statement is apparently correct:

Sound can travel through water for enormous distances, its acoustic energy prevented from dissipating by boundaries in the ocean created by water layers of different temperatures and densities.

The only reason I can think of is because by implies the involvement of an agent (a noun), whereas as a result of implies a process, action, or event. What is the strict difference between by and as a result of? In which contexts can as a result of be used?

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  • There's nothing "wrong" with the first example, though the second is a bit more idiomatic. – Hot Licks Jul 11 '20 at 22:14
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'As a result of' implies a process that has some consequence, leads to some events. 'As a result of' stresses the importance of the outcome, whereas 'by', as you said, implies only the involvement of an agent or process, the involvement itself, without strict attachment to the final result.

In your case, the second statement seems to be correct. There's no such thing as 'a result of boundaries', because a boundary is not an action, whereas 'a result of appearance of something' is a right way to say.

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