Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

Prestack Migration And Applications

January 01, 1997


In areas of complex geological structures, the CMP (common midpoint) stacking process fails since the assumption that CMP equals CRP (common reflection point) is rendered invalid. The scattering of reflection points for CMP traces will occur whenever dipping beds are not flat. Figure 5-1 shows an example of this for a collection of CMP traces.

Therefore, for areas of complex structure, the incompatibility of CMP stacking and depth migration, dictate that the migration process be performed before stacking. The stacking can be done within the migration process itself. This process certainly does not obviate the need for accurate velocity estimation. In fact, we shall see that the success of the prestack migration process is closely coupled to velocity estimation, and that velocity analysis is the major problem.

The concept of prestack migration is most readily explained using the concept of aplanatic surfaces. This kinematic description probably relates more to Kirchhoff migration which is a ray tracing or wavefront mapping approach to depth migration. In relating prestack migration to reverse-time finite-difference methods, we use some of the first examples which were developed for VSP (vertical seismic profiling) migration by Chang and McMechan (1986) and by Whitmore and Lines (1986). Both of these methods relate to the imaging condition of Claerbout (1971). In essence, we will see that prestack migration involves two steps - the downward continuation of wavefields to the reflector and the application of an imaging condition.

In considering the downward continuation step, we use the concept of an aplanatic surface. For a given source and receiver, an aplanatic surface is defined as the locus of possible reflector surface points for a given reflection traveltime (ref. Sheriff, 1991). (This definition of an aplanatic surface assumes that we have knowledge of the medium’s seismic velocity variation.)

You do not currently have access to this article.

Figures & Tables


Society of Exploration Geophysicists Course Notes

Seismic Modeling and Imaging with the Complete Wave Equation

Ralph Phillip Bording
Ralph Phillip Bording
Institute for Geophysics University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas
Search for other works by this author on:
Larry R. Lines
Larry R. Lines
Department of Geology and Geophysics University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta
Search for other works by this author on:
Society of Exploration Geophysicists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 1997




Citing Books via

Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal