Joint inversion, the inversion of multiple geophysical data sets containing complementary information about the subsurface, has the potential to significantly improve inversion results by reducing the nonuniqueness of the inverse problem. One of the challenges of joint inversion is deciding how to couple the multiple physical property models. If a coupling approach is used that is inconsistent with the physical truth, then inversion artifacts can occur and may lead to incorrect interpretations. In this paper, we investigated the fuzzy c-means (FCM) clustering approach to provide a lithological coupling of the seismic velocity and density models in joint 2D inversions of first-arrival traveltimes and gravity data. Even though this coupling approach has been used in previous works, recommendations for its effective use have not yet been developed. We conducted a suite of joint inversion tests on synthetic data generated from a geologically realistic model based on magmatic massive sulfide deposits. There is a known relationship between seismic velocity and density for the silicate rocks and sulfide minerals involved; this lithological relationship was used to design a clustered coupling strategy in the joint inversions. The tests we conducted clearly exhibited the benefits of joint inversion using FCM coupling. Our work revealed the effects of including inaccurate a priori physical property information. We also evaluated approaches to assess whether such inaccurate information may have been used.

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