Migration velocity analysis and waveform inversion
William W. Symes
Journal name: Geophysical Prospecting
Issue: Vol 56, No 6, November 2008 pp. 765 - 790
Special topic: Towards a Full Waveform Inversion
Info: Article, PDF ( 1.05Mb )
Least-squares inversion of seismic reflection waveform data can reconstruct remarkably detailed models of subsurface structure and take into account essentially any physics of seismic wave propagation that can be modelled. However, the waveform inversion objective has many spurious local minima, hence convergence of descent methods (mandatory because of problem size) to useful Earth models requires accurate initial estimates of long-scale velocity structure. Migration velocity analysis, on the other hand, is capable of correcting substantially erroneous initial estimates of velocity at long scales. Migration velocity analysis is based on prestack depth migration, which is in turn based on linearized acoustic modelling (Born or single-scattering approximation). Two major variants of prestack depth migration, using binning of surface data and Claerbout's survey-sinking concept respectively, are in widespread use. Each type of prestack migration produces an image volume depending on redundant parameters and supplies a condition on the image volume, which expresses consistency between data and velocity model and is hence a basis for velocity analysis. The survey-sinking (depth-oriented) approach to prestack migration is less subject to kinematic artefacts than is the binning-based (surface-oriented) approach. Because kinematic artefacts strongly violate the consistency or semblance conditions, this observation suggests that velocity analysis based on depth-oriented prestack migration may be more appropriate in kinematically complex areas. Appropriate choice of objective (differential semblance) turns either form of migration velocity analysis into an optimization problem, for which Newton-like methods exhibit little tendency to stagnate at nonglobal minima. The extended modelling concept links migration velocity analysis to the apparently unrelated waveform inversion approach to estimation of Earth structure: from this point of view, migration velocity analysis is a solution method for the linearized waveform inversion problem. Extended modelling also provides a basis for a nonlinear generalization of migration velocity analysis. Preliminary numerical evidence suggests a new approach to nonlinear waveform inversion, which may combine the global convergence of velocity analysis with the physical fidelity of model-based data fitting.