Variance-based model interpolation for improved full-waveform inversion in the presence of salt bodies

Oleg Ovcharenko, Vladimir Kazei, Daniel Peter, Tariq Ali Alkhalifah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


When present in the subsurface salt bodies impact the complexity of wave-equation-based seismic imaging techniques, such as least-squares reverse-time migration, and full-waveform inversion (FWI). Typically, the Born approximation used in every iteration of least-squares-based inversions is incapable of handling the sharp, high-contrast boundaries of salt bodies. We develop a variance-based method for reconstruction of velocity models to resolve the imaging and inversion issues caused by salt bodies. Our main idea lies in retrieving useful information from independent updates corresponding to FWI at different frequencies. After several FWI iterations we compare the model updates by considering the variance distribution between them to identify locations most prone to cycle skipping. We interpolate velocities from the surrounding environment into these high-variance areas. This approach allows the model to gradually improve from identifying easily resolvable areas and extrapolating the model updates from those to the areas that are difficult to resolve at early FWI iterations. In numerical tests, our method demonstrates the ability to obtain convergent FWI results at higher frequencies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R541-R551
Number of pages1
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 7 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Prof. Gerhard Pratt for comments and references on the nature of cycleskipping artifacts, as well as to Tristan Van Leuween whose open source FWI code was used as a building block in our inversion scheme ( We also thank Anatoly Baumstein, Je↵rey Shragge and three anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and comments that helped to improve the manuscript. The research reported in this publication was supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). We thank members of the seismic wave analysis group (SWAG) and the seismic modeling and inversion group (SMI) at KAUST for constructive discussions.


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