The main difficulty with iterative waveform inversion is that it tends to get stuck in local minima associated with the waveform misfit function. To mitigate this problem and avoid the need to fit amplitudes in the data, we have developed a wave-equation method that inverts the traveltimes of reflection events, and so it is less prone to the local minima problem. Instead of a waveform misfit function, the penalty function was a crosscorrelation of the downgoing direct wave and the upgoing reflection wave at the trial image point. The time lag, which maximized the crosscorrelation amplitude, represented the reflection-traveltime residual (RTR) that was back projected along the reflection wavepath to update the velocity. Shot- and angle-domain crosscorrelation functions were introduced to estimate the RTR by semblance analysis and scanning. In theory, only the traveltime information was inverted and there was no need to precisely fit the amplitudes or assume a high-frequency approximation. Results with synthetic data and field records revealed the benefits and limitations of wave-equation reflection traveltime inversion.

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