Image-wave propagation or velocity continuation describes the variation of the migrated position of a seismic event as a function of migration velocity. Image-wave propagation in the common-image gather (CIG) domain can be combined with residual-moveout analysis for iterative migration velocity analysis (MVA). Velocity continuation of CIGs leads to a detection of those velocities in which events flatten. Although image-wave continuation is based on the assumption of a constant migration velocity, the procedure can be applied in inhomogeneous media. For this purpose, CIGs obtained by migration with an inhomogeneous macrovelocity model are continued starting from a constant reference velocity. The interpretation of continued CIGs, as if they were obtained from residual migrations, leads to a correction formula that translates residual flattening velocities into absolute time-migration velocities. In this way, the migration velocity model can be improved iteratively until a satisfactory result is reached. With a numerical example, we found that MVA with iterative image continuation applied exclusively to selected CIGs can construct a reasonable migration velocity model from scratch, without the need to build an initial model from a previous conventional normal-moveout/dip-moveout velocity analysis.

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