To obtain a physical understanding of gradient-based descent methods in full-waveform inversion (FWI), we find a connection between the FWI gradient and the image provided by reverse time migration (RTM). The gradient uses the residual data as a virtual source, and RTM uses the observed data directly as the boundary condition, so the FWI gradient is similar to a time integration of the RTM image using the residual data, which physically converts the phase of the reflectivity to the phase of the velocity. Therefore, gradient-based FWI can be connected to the classical reflectivity-to-velocity/impedance inversion (RVI). We have developed a new FWI scheme that provides a self-contained and physically intuitive derivation, which naturally establishes a connection among the amplitude-preserved RTM, the Zoeppritz equations (amplitude variation with angle inversion), and RVI, and combines them into a single framework to produce a preconditioned inversion formula. In this scheme, the relative velocity update is a phase-modified and deconvolved RTM image obtained with the residual data. Consistent with the deconvolution, the multiscale approach applies a gradually widening low-pass frequency filter to the deconvolved wavelet at early iterations, and then it uses the unfiltered deconvolved wavelet for the final iterations. Our numerical testing determined that the new method makes a significant improvement to the quality of the inversion result.

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