Abstract

Detailed velocity models of the earth's subsurface can be obtained through waveform tomography. The accuracy of the long-wavelength component of such velocity models, which is the background velocity field, is particularly sensitive to modeling low-frequency refracted waves that have long paths through target structures. Thus, field examples primarily have focused on the analysis of long-offset wide-angle data sets collected using autonomous receivers, in which refractions arrive at significantly earlier times than reflections. Modern marine acquisition with long streamers now offers the ability to record refracted waves with high spatial density and uniform source, both in shallow and deep water. We used 2D multichannel seismic (MCS) data acquired with a 9-km-long streamer over the Scotian Slope in water depths of ∼1600 m. The refracted arrivals, although mostly restricted to far-offset receivers, provided sufficient information to successfully invert for a high-resolution background velocity field. Using a frequency-domain acoustic code over frequencies from 8 to 24 Hz on two crossing profiles, we found that the limited refracted waves can constrain the velocity field above the depth of the turning waves (∼1.5 km below seafloor). Several important features were resolved by the waveform velocity model that were not present in the initial traveltime model. In particular, a high-velocity layer at 300 m below the seafloor, interpreted as gas hydrates, was imaged even where a characteristic bottom-simulating reflector was not visible. At 750-m depth, a strong velocity increase of 300 m/s existed beneath a gently dipping reflector along which low-velocity zones, possibly related to gas, were present. Velocity models were highly consistent at the crossing point between the two profiles. The depth extent of the MCS waveform tomography constrained by refractions could be extended by even longer streamers (e.g., 15 km) or by joint inversion with data from ocean-bottom seismographs.

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