A practical implementation of wave front construction for 3-D isotropic media

CJ Chambers, J-M Kendall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Wave front construction (WFC) methods are a useful tool for tracking wave fronts and are a natural extension to standard ray shooting methods. Here we describe and implement a simple WFC method that is used to interpolate wavefield properties throughout a 3-D heterogeneous medium. Our approach differs from previous 3-D WFC procedures primarily in the use of a ray interpolation scheme, based on approximating the wave front as a ‘locally spherical’ surface and a ‘first arrival mode’, which reduces computation times, where only first arrivals are required. Both of these features have previously been included in 2-D WFC algorithms; however, until now they have not been extended to 3-D systems. The wave front interpolation scheme allows for rays to be traced from a nearly arbitrary distribution of take-off angles, and the calculation of derivatives with respect to take-off angles is not required for wave front interpolation. However, in regions of steep velocity gradient, the locally spherical approximation is not valid, and it is necessary to backpropagate rays to a sufficiently homogenous region before interpolation of the new ray. Our WFC technique is illustrated using a realistic velocity model, based on a North Sea oil reservoir. We examine wavefield quantities such as traveltimes, ray angles, source take-off angles and geometrical spreading factors, all of which are interpolated on to a regular grid. We compare geometrical spreading factors calculated using two methods: using the ray Jacobian and by taking the ratio of a triangular area of wave front to the corresponding solid angle at the source. The results show that care must be taken when using ray Jacobians to calculate geometrical spreading factors, as the poles of the source coordinate system produce unreliable values, which can be spread over a large area, as only a few initial rays are traced in WFC. We also show that the use of the first arrival mode can reduce computation time by ~65 per cent, with the accuracy of the interpolated traveltimes, ray angles and source take-off angles largely unchanged. However, the first arrival mode does lead to inaccuracies in interpolated angles near caustic surfaces, as well as small variations in geometrical spreading factors for ray tubes that have passed through caustic surfaces.
Translated title of the contributionA practical implementation of wave front construction for 3-D isotropic media
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1030 - 1038
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume174 (1-3)
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Blackwell

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