Analysis of synthetic traveltime gathers shows that anisotropy may have a large enough effect on P, SH, and SV propagation to alter significantly the interpretation of the subsurface below the anisotropic layers. Consequently, if anisotropy exists below a seismic line, it is important to estimate the anisotropic parameters correctly. We discuss the effects of anisotropy on seismic waves and present a method for estimating the elastic constants of a transversely isotropic layer from P and SH arrival-time gathers. The technique may be extended to more general anisotropic symmetries by analyzing gathers from several azimuths.

To illustrate the possible effect of anisotropy on exploration surveys, P, SH, and SV velocity variations are calculated for several types of anisotropic sedimentary fabrics. Alignments due to bedding, shale lithology, and dry parallel cracks may have similar velocity variations. Fabrics with other configurations of cracks may still possess overall transversely isotropic symmetry, but they have a wide range of angular velocity variations with different polarities and periodicities. Synthetic gather curves are generated for a range of models with an anisotropic layer over an isotropic substrate. They show departures from hyperbolas, and erroneous depth determinations, that depend upon the elastic constants of the anisotropic layer.

The elastic constants of the anisotropic layers are estimated from the synthetic gather curves by means of approximate equations for the angular velocity variations, which are linear in the elastic constants. Formulas are developed which relate tangents to the gather curves directly in terms of the elastic constants. These are tested for single-layer transversely isotropic models and allow the five elastic constants to be estimated by drawing three tangents to P and SH synthetic arrival-time gathers in (t2,X2) space. Comparisons of estimated with original elastic constants are good for a number of different types of transversely isotropic fabrics. Gathers are also calculated at two azimuths in an anisotropic layer with orthorhombic symmetry and are analyzed with some success.

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