In areas of complex geology, migration-velocity estimation should use methods that describe the complexity of wavefield propagation, such as focusing and defocusing, multipathing, and frequency-dependent velocity sensitivity. Migration-velocity analysis by wavefield extrapolation has the ability to address these issues because, in contrast to ray-based methods, it uses wavefields as carriers of information. However, its high cost and lack of flexibility with respect to model parametrization and to target-oriented analysis have prevented its routine industrial use. We overcome those limitations by using new types of wavefields as carriers of information: the image-space generalized wavefields. These wavefields are synthesized from a prestack image computed with wavefield-extrapolation methods, using the prestack exploding-reflector model. Cost of migration-velocity analysis (MVA) by wavefield extrapolation is decreased because only a small number of image-space generalized wavefields are necessary to accurately describe the kinematics of velocity errors and because these wavefields can be easily used in a target-oriented way. Flexibility is naturally incorporated because modeling these wavefields has as the initial conditions selected reflectors, which allow use of a horizon-based parametrization of the model space. In a 3D example of the North Sea, we show that using wavefields synthesized by the prestack exploding-reflector model greatly improves efficiency of MVA by wavefield extrapolation, while yielding a final migration-velocity model that is accurate as evidenced by well focused and structurally reasonable reflectors.

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