Finite-difference seismic models are commonly set up in 2-D space. Such models must be excited by a line source which leads to different amplitudes than those in the real data commonly generated from a point source. Moreover, there is no provision for any out-of-plane events. These problems can be eliminated by using 3-D finite-difference models.The fundamental strategy in designing efficient 3-D models is to minimize computational work without sacrificing accuracy. This was accomplished by using a (4,2) differencing operator which ensures the accuracy of much larger operators but requires many fewer numerical operations as well as significantly reduced manipulation of data in the computer memory. Such a choice also simplifies the problem of evaluating the wave field near the subsurface boundaries of the model where large operators cannot be used. We also exploited the fact that, unlike the real data, the synthetic data are free from ambient noise; consequently, one can retain sufficient resolution in the results by optimizing the frequency content of the source signal. Further computational efficiency was achieved by using the concept of the exploding reflector which yields zero-offset seismic sections without the need to evaluate the wave field for individual shot locations. These considerations opened up the possibility of carrying out a complete synthetic 3-D survey on a supercomputer to investigate the seismic response of a large-scale structure located in Oklahoma. The analysis of results done on a geophysical workstation provides new insight regarding the role of interference and diffraction in the interpretation of seismic data.

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