To avoid the defocusing effects of propagating waves through salt and overburden with an inaccurate overburden velocity model, we introduce a vertical seismic profiling (VSP) local elastic reverse-time-migration (RTM) method for salt-flank imaging by transmitted P-to-S waves. This method back-projects the transmitted PS waves using a local velocity model around the well until they are in phase with the back-projected PP waves at the salt boundaries. The merits of this method are that it does not require the complex overburden and salt-body velocities and it automatically accounts for source-side statics. In addition, the method accounts for kinematic and dynamic effects, including anisotropy, absorption, and all other unknown rock effects outside of this lo-cal subsalt velocity model. Numerical tests on an elastic salt model and offset 2D VSP data in the Gulf of Mexico, using a finite-difference time-domain staggered-grid RTM scheme, partly demonstrate the effectiveness of this method over interferometry PS-PP transmission migration and local acoustic RTM. Our method separates elastic wavefields to vector P- and S-wave velocity components at the trial image point and achieves better resolution than local acoustic RTM and interferometric transmission migration. The analytical formulas of migration resolution for local acoustic and elastic RTM show that the migration illumination is limited by data frequency and receiver aperture, and the spatial resolution is lower than standard poststack and prestack migration. This new method can image salt flanks as well as subsalt reflectors.

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