Widely exploited in the industry, amplitude-variation-with-offset (AVO) inversion techniques are based on weak-contrast approximations of the plane-wave reflection coefficients. These approximations are valid for plane waves reflected at almost flat interfaces with weak contrasts in seismic parameters and for reflection angles below the critical angle. Regardless of the underlying assumptions, linearized coefficients provide a simple and physically adequate tool to accurately invert AVO data for seismic parameters at precritical angles. However, the accuracy of linearized coefficients drastically decreases with increasing incidence angle. Limitations occur around and beyond the critical ray, where the effect of wavefront curvature becomes prominent and thus can no more be neglected. The effective reflection coefficients generalize the plane-wave reflection coefficients for waves generated by point sources and reflected at curved interfaces. They account for the wavefront curvature and are adequate at any incidence angle. Our previous studies have shown that including the reflections around and beyond the critical angle in the AVO inversion significantly improves the accuracy of estimated parameters. However, the interface curvature also must have its contribution to the long-offset AVO inversion. We find that the interface curvature affects the energy propagation along the ray tube and the energy diffusion across the ray tube. The energy propagation along the tube is characterized by the geometrical spreading, which is strongly affected by interface curvature. The transverse diffusion is captured by the effective reflection coefficients which are less influenced by interface curvature. The long-offset AVO inversion is thus sensitive to interface curvature through a combination of several wave propagation factors.

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