We evaluated a time-domain wave equation for modeling acoustic wave propagation in attenuating media. The wave equation was derived from Kjartansson’s constant-Q constitutive stress-strain relation in combination with the mass and momentum conservation equations. Our wave equation, expressed by a second-order temporal derivative and two fractional Laplacian operators, described very nearly constant-Q attenuation and dispersion effects. The advantage of using our formulation of two fractional Laplacians over the traditional fractional time derivative approach was the avoidance of time history memory variables and thus it offered more economic computations. In numerical simulations, we formulated the first-order constitutive equations with the perfectly matched layer absorbing boundaries. The temporal derivative was calculated with a staggered-grid finite-difference approach. The fractional Laplacians are calculated in the spatial frequency domain using a Fourier pseudospectral implementation. We validated our numerical results through comparisons with theoretical constant-Q attenuation and dispersion solutions, field measurements from the Pierre Shale, and results from 2D viscoacoustic analytical modeling for the homogeneous Pierre Shale. We also evaluated different formulations to show separated amplitude loss and dispersion effects on wavefields. Furthermore, we generalized our rigorous formulation for homogeneous media to an approximate equation for viscoacoustic waves in heterogeneous media. We then investigated the accuracy of numerical modeling in attenuating media with different Q-values and its stability in large-contrast heterogeneous media. Finally, we tested the applicability of our time-domain formulation in a heterogeneous medium with high attenuation.

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