Waveform inversion for orthorhombic anisotropy with P waves: Feasibility and resolution

Vladimir Kazei*, Tariq Alkhalifah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Various parametrizations have been suggested to simplify inversions of first arrivals, or P waves, in orthorhombic anisotropic media, but the number and type of retrievable parameters have not been decisively determined. We show that only six parameters can be retrieved from the dynamic linearized inversion of P waves. These parameters are different from the six parameters needed to describe the kinematics of P waves. Reflection-based radiation patterns from the P-P scattered waves are remapped into the spectral domain to allow for our resolution analysis based on the effective angle of illumination concept. Singular value decomposition of the spectral sensitivities from various azimuths, offset coverage scenarios and data bandwidths allows us to quantify the resolution of different parametrizations, taking into account the signal-to-noise ratio in a given experiment. According to our singular value analysis, when the primary goal of inversion is determining the velocity of the P waves, gradually adding anisotropy of lower orders (isotropic, vertically transversally isotropic and orthorhombic) in hierarchical parametrization is the best choice. Hierarchical parametrization reduces the trade-off between the parameters and makes gradual introduction of lower anisotropy orders straightforward. When all the anisotropic parameters affecting P-wave propagation need to be retrieved simultaneously, the classic parametrization of orthorhombic medium with elastic stiffness matrix coefficients and density is a better choice for inversion. We provide estimates of the number and set of parameters that can be retrieved from surface seismic data in different acquisition scenarios. To set up an inversion process, the singular values determine the number of parameters that can be inverted and the resolution matrices from the parametrizations can be used to ascertain the set of parameters that can be resolved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-982
Number of pages20
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society.


  • Body waves
  • Fourier analysis
  • Inverse theory
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Wave scattering and diffraction
  • Waveform inversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics


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