Full-waveform inversion (FWI) suffers from the phase wrapping (cycle skipping) problem when the frequency of data is not low enough. Unless we obtain a good initial velocity model, the phase wrapping problem in FWI causes a result corresponding to a local minimum, usually far away from the true solution, especially at depth. Thus, we have developed an inversion algorithm based on a space-domain unwrapped phase, and we also used exponential damping to mitigate the nonlinearity associated with the reflections. We construct the 2D phase residual map, which usually contains the wrapping discontinuities, especially if the model is complex and the frequency is high. We then unwrap the phase map and remove these cycle-based jumps. However, if the phase map has several residues, the unwrapping process becomes very complicated. We apply a strong exponential damping to the wavefield to eliminate much of the residues in the phase map, thus making the unwrapping process simple. We finally invert the unwrapped phases using the back-propagation algorithm to calculate the gradient. We progressively reduce the damping factor to obtain a high-resolution image. Numerical examples determined that the unwrapped phase inversion with a strong exponential damping generated convergent long-wavelength updates without low-frequency information. This model can be used as a good starting model for a subsequent inversion with a reduced damping, eventually leading to conventional waveform inversion.

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