Resolving thinner layers and focusing layer boundaries better in inverted seismic sections are important challenges in exploration and production seismology to better identify a potential drilling target. Many seismic inversion methods are based on a least-squares optimization approach that can intrinsically lead to unfocused transitions between adjacent layers. A Bayesian seismic amplitude variation with angle (AVA) inversion algorithm forms sharper boundaries between layers when enforcing sparseness in the vertical gradients of the inversion results. The underlying principle is similar to high-resolution processing algorithms and has been adapted from digital-image-sharpening algorithms. We have investigated the Cauchy and Laplace statistical distributions for their potential to improve contrasts betweenlayers. An inversion algorithm is derived statistically from Bayes' theorem and results in a nonlinear problem that requires an iterative solution approach. Bayesian inversions require knowledge of certain statistical properties of the model we want to invert for. The blocky inversion method requires an additional parameter besides the usual properties for a multivariate covariance matrix, which we can estimate from borehole data. Tests on synthetic and field data show that the blocky inversion algorithm can detect and enhance layer boundaries in seismic inversions by effectively suppressing side lobes. The analysis of the synthetic data suggests that the Laplace constraint performs more reliably, whereas the Cauchy constraint may not find the optimum solution by converging to a local minimum of the cost function and thereby introducing some numerical artifacts.

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