In the frequency domain, gradient-based local-optimization methods of waveform inversions have been unsuccessful at inverting subsurface parameters without an accurate starting model. Such methods could not correct automatically for poor starting models because multiple local minima made it difficult to approach the true global minimum. In this study, we compared the behavior of objective functions in the frequency and Laplace domains. Wavefields in the Laplace domain correspond to the zero-frequency component of a damped wavefield; thus, the Laplace-domain waveform inversion can image smooth velocity models. Objective functions in the Laplace-domain inversion have a smoother surface and fewer local minima than in the frequency-domain inversion. We applied the waveform inversion to a 2D slice of the acoustic SEG/EAGE salt model in the Laplace domain and recovered smooth velocity models from inaccurate initial velocity conditions. We also successfully imaged velocities of the salt, SEG overthrust, and Institut Francais du Petrole Marmousi models with the frequency-domain inversion method by using the inverted velocity model of the Laplace-domain inversion as the initial model.

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