Modeling of seismic wave propagation plays a key role in almost every aspect of exploration seismology. Fundamentally, it provides a means of understanding the character of recorded seismic data. Although analytical or semianalytical solutions exist for several canonical models, those are often insufficient to explain the full plethora of phenomena that arise in complex heterogeneous earth models governed by, e.g., anisotropic, viscoelastic, or poroelastic rheologies. Typical manifestations of such complex phenomena that are observed widely in surface seismic data include scattering, generation of multiples, and interface waves.
Another application area of seismic modeling is survey evaluation and design, in which different acquisition geometries and subsurface model hypotheses are assessed to choose an optimal acquisition and processing strategy. A recent example in which seismic modeling is having a significant impact and proving to be a valuable tool is 3D wide-azimuth acquisition design in high-risk, high-reward ultra-deepwater exploration scenarios (see, for instance, contributions in this supplement).