A synthesis of two newly developed concepts in 3-D modeling is developed in this paper: (1) The open, (non-complete) seismic model, and (2) the ray tracing based wavefront (WF) construction method. The open model may contain interfaces with holes and other missing parts, which simplifies model building considerably because the input horizon data from standard interpretation and processing packages are often incomplete. A set of volumes is defined in the model. A volume is a logical unit that points to a set of property functions, e.g., P-velocity, S-velocity, and density. The properties are represented either as constants or as B-spline functions of the spatial coordinates (x, y) or (x, y, z). The volumes of the model are assigned to opposing sides of each interface and not to specific spatial areas of the model, which is the case in most (blocky) model representations. The interfaces are given explicitly by triangular grids where the sizes of the triangles are determined locally by the curvature of the interface. We show how modeling by WF construction is both possible and computationally efficient in open models, but only after some modifications to deal with the ambiguity of the model representation. It is not possible to find a unique volume for the spatial positions in an open model. Instead, the volumes (with associated velocities, etc.) are determined from the last interface encountered by each ray in the WF. To find an arrival in a receiver, the volume associated to the receiver has to match the volume of the WF hitting the receiver.

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