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## Isotropic Case

Nonhyperbolicity of reflection moveout in vertically heterogeneous isotropic media has been extensively studied with the help of the Taylor series expansion in the powers of the offset Al-Chalabi (1973); Bolshykh (1956); Taner and Koehler (1969). The most important property of vertically heterogeneous media is that the ray parameter doesn't change with the depth along each ray (Snell's law). This fact leads to the explicit parametric relationships
 (23) (24)
where
 (25)
Straightforward differentiation of parametric formulas (23) and (24) yields the first four coefficients of the Taylor series expansion
 (26)
in the vicinity of the vertical zero-offset ray. Series (26) contains only even powers of the offset h because of the reciprocity principle: the reflection traveltime is an even function of the offset. Taylor coefficients for the isotropic case are defined as follows:
 (27) (28) (29) (30)
where Vrms2 = M1,
 (31) (32)
Equation (28) shows that, at small offsets, the reflection moveout has a hyperbolic form with the normal moveout velocity Vn equal to the root-mean-square velocity Vrms. At large offsets, however, the hyperbolic approximation is not accurate. Studying the Taylor series expansion (26), Malovichko introduced a remarkable three-parameter approximation for the reflection traveltime in a vertically heterogeneous isotropic medium Malovichko (1978); Sword (1987). Malovichko's formula has the form of a shifted hyperbola Castle (1988); de Bazelaire (1988):
 (33)

If we set the zero-offset traveltime t0 equal to the vertical traveltime tz, the velocity Vn equal to Vrms, and the parameter of heterogeneity S equal to S2, formula (33) guarantees the correct coefficients a0, a1, and a2 in the Taylor series (26). Note that the parameter S2 is related to the variance of the squared velocity distribution, as follows:
 (34)
According to formula (34), this parameter is always greater than 1 (it equals 1 in homogeneous media). In the most common practical cases, the value of S2 lies between 1 and 2. We can roughly estimate the accuracy of approximation (33) at large offsets by comparing the fourth term of its Taylor series with the fourth term of the exact traveltime expansion (26). According to this estimate, the error of Malovichko's approximation is
 (35)
As follows from the definition of the parameters Sk (32) and the Schwarz (Cauchy-Bunyakovski) inequality from calculus, expression (35) is greater than zero for any non-uniform velocity distribution Vz(tz). This means that Malovichko's approximation tends to overestimate traveltimes at large offsets. As the offset approaches infinity, the limit of this approximation is
 (36)

Formula (36) indicates that the effective horizontal velocity for Malovichko's approximation (the slope of the shifted hyperbola asimptote) is different from the normal moveout velocity. We can interpret this difference as an evidence of the effective depth-variant anisotropy. However, the anisotropic effect implied in formula (33) is different from the effect of a homogeneous transversely isotropic medium described by Thomsen's formula (1). To reveal this difference, let us substitute the effective values , , , and into (33). After we eliminate the variables z and h, the resultant expression takes the form
 (37)
If the anisotropic effect is induced by a vertical heterogeneity, Vx is greater than Vn, while Vn is greater than Vz. Both of these inequalities follow from the definitions of Vrms, tv, and S2 and the Schwartz inequality. They reduce to equalities only in the case of a constant velocity. Linearizing expression (37) with respect to Thomsen's anisotropic parameters and , we can transform it to a form analogous to that of equation (9), as follows:
 (38)
Figure 3 illustrates the difference between the weak transversally isotropic model and the effective anisotropy implied by Malovichko's approximation. The difference is noticeable in the shapes of both the effective wavefront (left plot) and the traveltime curve (right plot).

nmofrz
Figure 3
Comparing a weak transversally isotropic model and Malovichko's shifted hyperbola approximation. The left plot shows effective wavefronts; right: reflection moveouts. Solid lines correspond to the anisotropic model; dashed lines: Malovichko's approximation. The values of the effective vertical, horizontal, and moveout velocities are the same in both cases and correspond to Thomsen's parameters , .

Deriving formula (38), we have assumed the correspondence
 (39)
We could also take the value of the parameter of heterogeneity S so as to match the coefficient a2 given by formula (29) with the corresponding term in the Taylor series (17). In this case, the value of S would be Alkhalifah (1996)
 (40)
The difference between equations (39) and (40) is an additional indicator of the fundamental difference between the homogeneous VTI model and the vertically heterogeneous model. The three-parameter anisotropic approximation (16) can match the reflection moveout curve in the isotropic model up to and including the fourth-order term in the Taylor series expansion, if the value of is chosen in accordance with formula (40). We can estimate the error of such an approximation with an equation analogous to (35). It takes the form
 (41)
The difference between the error estimates (35) and (41) is
 (42)
For the usual values of the parameter of heterogeneity S2, which range from 1 to 2, expression (42) is greater than zero. This means that anisotropic approximation (16) overestimates the traveltimes in the isotropic heterogeneous model even more than the shifted hyperbola approximation (33) (as shown in the right plot of Figure 3). Which of the two approximations is more suitable if the model includes both vertical heterogeneity and anisotropy? We address this question in the following subsection.

Next: Vertical Heterogeneity plus Anisotropy Up: VERTICAL HETEROGENEITY Previous: VERTICAL HETEROGENEITY
Stanford Exploration Project
11/12/1997