Information contained in refracted arrivals often can determine shallow, complex structure within the earth. An established way of interpreting refraction arrivals employs graphical construction of wavefronts. Here I extend this graphical method by using numerical downward continuation techniques. For examples of synthetic data and field data, seismic images of irregular interfaces are formed by downward continuing refracted arrivals. For a field-data example, the image formed from the refraction arrivals is used to correct time-delay anomalies caused by irregular near-surface structure.Incorporation of downward continuation into refraction interpretation has several advantages. The method reduces complications due to raypath effects, diffractions, and shadow zones in the refracted arrivals. In addition, this interpretation method reduces the labor and ambiguities associated with identifying first breaks.p-tau decomposition of the wave field provides a wide-angle method for downward continuation of refracted arrivals. This method of downward continuation is well suited for refracted arrivals for several reasons. The method allows convenient evaluation of the wave field beneath an irregular recording datum, and it helps overcome spatial aliasing. Also, the calculations can easily be limited to the region of p-tau space that contains the refracted arrival.

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