Recent advances in seismic data acquisition and processing allow routine extraction of offset-/angle-dependent reflection amplitudes from prestack seismic data for quantifying subsurface lithologic and fluid properties. Amplitude-variation-with-offset (AVO) inversion is the most commonly used practice for such quantification. Although quite successful, AVO has a few shortcomings primarily due to the simplicity in its inherent assumptions, and for any quantitative estimation of reservoir properties, they are generally interpreted in combination with other information. In recent years, waveform-based inversions have gained popularity in reservoir characterization and depth imaging. Going beyond the simple assumptions of AVO and using wave equation solutions, these methods have been effective in accurately predicting the subsurface properties. Developments of these waveform inversions have so far been along two lines: (1) the methods that use a locally 1D model of the subsurface for each common midpoint and use an analytical solution to the wave equation for forward modeling and (2) the methods that do not make any 1D assumption but use an approximate numerical solution to the wave equation in 2D or 3D for forward modeling. Routine applications of these inversions are, however, still computationally demanding. We described a multilevel parallelization of elastic-waveform inversion methodology under a 1D assumption that allowed its application in a reasonable time frame. Applying AVO and waveform inversion on a single data set from the Rock Springs Uplift, Wyoming, USA, and comparing them with one another, we also determined that the waveform-based method was capable of obtaining a much superior description of subsurface properties compared with AVO. We concluded that the waveform inversions should be the method of choice for reservoir property estimation as high-performance computers become commonly available.

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