Full-volume seismic imaging is essential for a sound interpretation of structurally complex geologies. Prestack depth imaging is the most appropriate tool for such imaging, but it requires a precise and often complex velocity model. In such situations, 3D Kirchhoff prestack depth migration can be quite expensive. On the other hand, a wavefield approach, although generally tremendously expensive, is not affected by the complexity of the velocity model. We propose an affordable 3-D wavefield prestack depth-migration technique. It is designed for marine surveys for which the source-receiver azimuth is approximately constant. The technique applies a plane-wave migration algorithm to time-shifted data — quite a surprising approach when we realize that marine surveys do not allow the synthesis of genuine plane-wave data. Additionally, the imaging principle has to be modified to give results consistent with shot-record migration. Our technique also produces image gathers that allow an update of the velocity model by means of migration velocity analysis. Results from synthetics and conventional marine data demonstrate the effectiveness of the method.

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