A 2D velocity model was estimated by tomographic imaging of overlapping focusing operators that contain one-way traveltimes, from common-focus points to receivers in an aperture along the earth’s surface. The stability and efficiency of convergence and the quality of the resulting models were improved by a sequence of ideas. We used a hybrid parameterization that has an underlying grid, upon which is superimposed a flexible, pseudolayer model. We first solved for the low-wavenumber parts of the model (approximating it as constant-velocity pseudo layers), then we allowed intermediate wavenumbers (allowing the layers to have linear velocity gradients), and finally did unconstrained iterations to add the highest wavenumber details. Layer boundaries were implicitly defined by focus points that align along virtual marker (reflector) horizons. Each focus point sampled an area bounded by the first and last rays in the data aperture at the surface; this reduced the amount of computation and the size of the effective null space of the solution. Model updates were performed simultaneously for the velocities and the local focus point positions in two steps; local estimates were performed independently by amplitude semblance for each focusing operator within its area of dependence, followed by a tomographic weighting of the local estimates into a global solution for each grid point, subject to the constraints of the parameterization used at that iteration. The system of tomographic equations was solved by simultaneous iterative reconstruction, which is equivalent to a least-squares solution, but it does not involve a matrix inversion. The algorithm was successfully applied to synthetic data for a salt dome model using a constant-velocity starting model; after a total of 25 iterations, the velocity error was 0.2km/s and the final mean focal point position error was 0.5 wavelength.

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