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# Putting together prestack velocity continuation

Velocity continuation in the zero-offset (post-stack case) can be performed with a simple Fourier-domain algorithm Fomel (1998):
1.
Input an image, migrated with velocity v0.
2.
Transform the time axis t to the squared time coordinate: .
3.
Apply a fast Fourier transform (FFT) on both the squared time and the midpoint axis. The squared time transforms to the frequency , and the midpoint coordinate x transforms to the wavenumber k. We can safely assume that in the post-migration domain seismic images are uniformly sampled in x, which allows us to use the FFT technique. In the case of 3-D data, FFT should be applied in both midpoint coordinates.
4.
Apply a phase-shift operator to transform to different velocities v:
 (1)
5.
Apply an inverse FFT to transform from and k to and x.
6.
Apply an inverse time stretch to transform from to t.
The computational complexity of this algorithm has the same order as that of the Stolt migration Stolt (1978), but in practice it can be even faster because of the very simple inner computation.

To generalize algorithm (1) to the prestack case, we first need to include the residual NMO term Fomel (1996). Residual normal moveout can be formulated with the help of the differential equation:
 (2)
where h stands for the half-offset. The analytical solution of equation (2) has the form of the residual NMO operator:
 (3)
After transforming to the squared time and the corresponding Fourier frequency , equation (2) takes the form of the ordinary differential equation
 (4)
with the analytical frequency-domain phase-shift solution
 (5)
To obtain a Fourier-domain prestack velocity continuation algorithm, we just need to combine the phase-shift operators in equations (1) and (5) and to include stacking across different offsets. The algorithm takes the following form:

1.
Input a set of common-offset images, migrated with velocity v0.
2.
Transform the time axis t to the squared time coordinate: .
3.
Apply a fast Fourier transform (FFT) on both the squared time and the midpoint axis. The squared time transforms to the frequency , and the midpoint coordinate x transforms to the wavenumber k.
4.
Apply a phase-shift operator to transform to different velocities v:
 (6)
To save memory, the continuation step is immediately followed by stacking.
5.
Apply an inverse FFT to transform from and k to and x.
6.
Apply an inverse time stretch to transform from to t.
One can design similar algorithms by using finite differences or Chebyshev spectral methods Fomel (1998).

The complete theory of prestack velocity continuation also requires a residual DMO operator Etgen (1990); Fomel (1996, 1997). However, the difficulty of implementing this operator is not fully compensated by its contribution to the full velocity continuation. For simplicity, I decided not to include residual DMO in the current implementation.

Figure  shows impulse responses of prestack velocity continuation. The input for producing this figure was a time-migrated constant-offset section, corresponding to an offset of 1 km and a constant migration velocity of 1 km/s. In full accordance with the theory Fomel (1996), three spikes in the input section transformed into shifted ellipsoids after continuation to a higher velocity and into shifted hyperbolas after continuation to a smaller velocity.

velimp
Figure 1
Impulse responses of prestack velocity continuation. Left plot: continuation from 1 km/s to 1.5 km/s. Right plot: continuation from 1 km/s to 0.7 km/s. Both plots correspond to the offset of 1 km.

Figure compares the result of a constant-velocity prestack migration with the velocity of 1.8 km/s, applied to the infamous Gulf of Mexico dataset from Basic Earth Imaging Claerbout (1995) and the result of velocity continuation to the same velocity from a migration with a smaller velocity of 1.3 km/s. The differences in the top part of the images are explained by differences in muting. In the first case, muting was applied after migration, and in the second case, muting was applied prior to velocity continuation. The other parts of the sections look very similar, as expected from the theory.

velmigr
Figure 2
Top: The Gulf of Mexico dataset from BEI after prestack migration with the constant velocity of 1.8 km/s. Bottom: The same data after after velocity continuation from 1.3 km/s to 1.8 km/s.

Velocity continuation creates a time-midpoint-velocity cube (four-dimensional for 3-D data), which we can use for picking RMS velocities in the same way as we would use the result of common-midpoint or common-reflection-point velocity analysis. The important difference is that velocity continuation provides an optimal focusing of the reflection energy by properly taking into account both vertical and lateral movements of reflector images with changing migration velocity. Figure compares velocity spectra (semblance panels) at a CRP location of about 11.5 km after residual NMO and after prestack velocity continuation. Although the overall difference between the two panels is small, the velocity continuation panel shows a noticeably better focusing, especially in the region of conflicting dips between 1 and 2 seconds. The next section discusses the velocity picking step in more details.

consmb
Figure 3
Velocity spectra around 11.5 km CRP after residual NMO (left) and after prestack velocity continuation (right). The right plot shows improved focusing in the region between 1 and 2 seconds.

Next: Velocity picking and slicing Up: Fomel: Velocity continuation Previous: Introduction
Stanford Exploration Project
4/20/1999