Reflection moveout approximations are commonly used for velocity analysis, stacking, and time migration. A novel functional form for approximating the moveout of reflection traveltimes at large offsets is introduced. In comparison with the classic hyperbolic approximation, which uses only two parameters (zero-offset time and moveout velocity), this form involves five parameters that can be determined, in a known medium, from zero-offset computations and from tracing one nonzero-offset ray. It is called a generalized approximation because it reduces to some known three-parameter forms with a particular choice of coefficients. By testing the accuracy of the proposed approximation with analytical and numerical examples, the new approximation is shown to bring an improvement in accuracy of several orders of magnitude compared to known analytical approximations, which makes it as good as exact for many practical purposes.

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