In full-waveform inversion (FWI), a gradient-based update of the velocity model requires an initial velocity that produces synthetic data that are within a half-cycle, everywhere, from the field data. Such initial velocity models are usually extracted from migration velocity analysis or traveltime tomography, among other means, and are not guaranteed to adhere to the FWI requirements for an initial velocity model. As such, we evaluated an objective function based on the misfit in the instantaneous traveltime between the observed and modeled data. This phase-based attribute of the wavefield, along with its phase unwrapping characteristics, provided a frequency-dependent traveltime function that was easy to use and quantify, especially compared to conventional phase representation. With a strong Laplace damping of the modeled, potentially low-frequency, data along the time axis, this attribute admitted a first-arrival traveltime that could be compared with picked ones from the observed data, such as in wave equation tomography (WET). As we relax the damping on the synthetic and observed data, the objective function measures the misfit in the phase, however unwrapped. It, thus, provided a single objective function for a natural transition from WET to FWI. A Marmousi example demonstrated the effectiveness of the approach.

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