Full-waveform inversion in acoustic orthorhombic media and application to a North Sea data set

Nabil Masmoudi, Tariq Alkhalifah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Full-waveform inversion (FWI) in anisotropic media is challenging, mainly because of the large computational cost, especially in 3D, and the potential trade-offs between the model parameters needed to describe such media. By analyzing the trade-offs and understanding the resolution limits of the inversion, we can constrain FWI to focus on the main parameters the data are sensitive to and push the inversion toward more reliable models of the subsurface. Orthorhombic anisotropy is one of the most practical approximations of the earth subsurface that takes into account the natural horizontal layering and the vertical fracture network. We investigate the feasibility of a multiparameter FWI for an acoustic orthorhombic model described by six parameters. We rely on a suitable parameterization based on the horizontal velocity and five dimensionless anisotropy parameters. This particular parameterization allows a multistage model inversion strategy in which the isotropic, then, the vertical transverse isotropic, and finally the orthorhombic model can be successively updated. We applied our acoustic orthorhombic inversion on the SEG-EAGE overthrust synthetic model. The observed data used in the inversion are obtained from an elastic variable density version of the model. The quality of the inverted model suggests that we may recover only four parameters, with different resolution scales depending on the scattering potential of these parameters. Therefore, these results give useful insights on the expected resolution of the inverted parameters and the potential constraints that could be applied to an orthorhombic model inversion. We determine the efficiency of the inversion approach on real data from the North Sea. The inverted model is in agreement with the geologic structures and well-log information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C179-C193
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Society of Exploration Geophysicists.


  • 3d
  • Acoustic
  • Anisotropy
  • Full-waveform inversion
  • Multiparameter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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