Migration velocity can be estimated from seismic data by analyzing, focusing, and defocusing of residual-migrated images. The accuracy of these velocity estimates is limited by the inherent ambiguity between velocity and reflector curvature. However, velocity resolution improves when reflectors with different curvatures are present. Image focusing is measured by evaluating coherency across structural dips, in addition to coherency across aperture/azimuth angles. The inherent ambiguity between velocity and reflector curvature is directly tackled by introducing a curvature correction into the computation of the semblance functional that estimates image coherency. The resulting velocity estimator provides velocity estimates that are (1) unbiased by reflector curvature and (2) consistent with the velocity information that is routinely obtained by measuring coherency over aperture/azimuth angles. Applications to a 2D synthetic prestack data set and a 2D field prestack data set confirm that the proposed method provides consistent and unbiased velocity information. They also suggest that velocity estimates based on the new image-focusing semblance may be more robust and have higher resolution than estimates based on conventional semblance functionals. Applying the proposed method to zero-offset field data recorded in New York Harbor yields a velocity function that is consistent with available geologic information and clearly improves the focusing of the reflectors.

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