Modeling and reverse time migration based on the tilted transverse isotropic (TTI) acoustic wave equation suffers from instability in media of general inhomogeniety, especially in areas where the tilt abruptly changes. We develop a stable TTI acoustic wave equation implementation based on the original elastic anisotropic wave equation. We, specifically, derive a vertical transversely isotropic wave system of equations that is equivalent to their elastic counterpart and introduce the self-adjoint differential operators in rotated coordinates to stabilize the TTI acoustic wave equations. Compared to the conventional formulations, the new system of equations does not add numerical complexity; a stable solution can be found by either a pseudospectral method or a high-order explicit finite difference scheme. We demonstrate by examples that our method provides stable and high-quality TTI reverse time migration images.

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