Many processes in seismic data analysis and seismic imaging can be identified with solution operators of evolution equations. These include data downward continuation and velocity continuation. We have addressed the question of whether isochrons defined by imaging operators can be identified with wavefronts of solutions to an evolution equation. Rays associated with this equation then would provide a natural way of implementing prestack map migration. Assuming absence of caustics, we have developed constructive proof of the existence of a Hamiltonian describing propagation of isochrons in the context of common-offset depth migration. In the presence of caustics, one should recast to a sinking-survey migration framework. By manipulating the double-square-root operator, we obtain an evolution equation that describes sinking-survey migration as a propagation in two-way time with surface data being a source function. This formulation can be viewed as an extension of the exploding reflector concept from zero-offset to sinking-survey migration. The corresponding Hamiltonian describes propagation of extended isochrons (fronts with constant two-way time) connected by extended isochron rays. The term extended reflects the fact that two-way time propagation now takes place in high-dimensional space with the following coordinates: subsurface midpoint, subsurface offset, and depth. Extended isochron rays can be used in a natural manner for implementing sinking-survey migration in a map-migration fashion.

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