The results of a flume experiment and a theoretical study of surface wave motion over a fluidized bed are presented. It is shown that a resonant wave interaction between a surface wave and two interfacial waves at the interface of the fresh water and the fluidized bed is a strong mechanism for instability of the interface and the subsequent mixing of the layers. The interfacial waves are subharmonic to the surface wave and form a standing wave at the interface. The interaction is investigated theoretically using a viscous interaction analysis. It is shown that surface wave height and viscous effects are the determining factors in the instability mechanism. The results indicate that the net effect of viscosity on the interaction is to suppress the interfacial waves.