Wide-azimuth long-offset ocean bottom cable (OBC)/ocean bottom node surveys provide a suitable framework to perform computationally efficient frequency-domain full-waveform inversion (FWI) with a few discrete frequencies. Frequency-domain seismic modeling is performed efficiently with moderate computational resources for a large number of sources with a sparse multifrontal direct solver (Gauss-elimination techniques for sparse matrices). Approximate solutions of the time-harmonic wave equation are computed using a block low-rank (BLR) approximation, leading to a significant reduction in the operation count and in the volume of communication during the lower upper (LU) factorization as well as offering great potential for reduction in the memory demand. Moreover, the sparsity of the seismic source vectors is exploited to speed up the forward elimination step during the computation of the monochromatic wavefields. The relevance and the computational efficiency of the frequency-domain FWI performed in the viscoacoustic vertical transverse isotropic (VTI) approximation was tested with a real 3D OBC case study from the North Sea. The FWI subsurface models indicate a dramatic resolution improvement relative to the initial model built by reflection traveltime tomography. The amplitude errors introduced in the modeled wavefields by the BLR approximation for different low-rank thresholds have a negligible footprint in the FWI results. With respect to a standard multifrontal sparse direct factorization, and without compromise of the accuracy of the imaging, the BLR approximation can bring a reduction of the LU factor size by a factor of up to three. This reduction is not yet exploited to reduce the effective memory usage (ongoing work). The flop reduction can be larger than a factor of 10 and can bring a factor of time reduction of around three. Moreover, this reduction factor tends to increase with frequency, namely with the matrix size. Frequency-domain viscoacoustic VTI FWI can be viewed as an efficient tool to build an initial model for elastic FWI of 4C OBC data.

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