Estimation of an accurate velocity macromodel is an important step in seismic imaging. We have developed an approach based on coherence measurements and finite-offset (FO) beam stacking. The algorithm is an FO common-reflection-surface tomography, which aims to determine the best layered depth-velocity model by finding the model that maximizes a semblance objective function calculated from the amplitudes in common-midpoint (CMP) gathers stacked over a predetermined aperture. We develop the subsurface velocity model with a stack of layers separated by smooth interfaces. The algorithm is applied layer by layer from the top downward in four steps per layer. First, by automatic or manual picking, we estimate the reflection times of events that describe the interfaces in a time-migrated section. Second, we convert these times to depth using the velocity model via application of Dix’s formula and the image rays to the events. Third, by using ray tracing, we calculate kinematic parameters along the central ray and build a paraxial FO traveltime approximation for the FO common-reflection-surface method. Finally, starting from CMP gathers, we calculate the semblance of the selected events using this paraxial traveltime approximation. After repeating this algorithm for all selected CMP gathers, we use the mean semblance values as an objective function for the target layer. When this coherence measure is maximized, the model is accepted and the process is completed. Otherwise, the process restarts from step two with the updated velocity model. Because the inverse problem we are solving is nonlinear, we use very fast simulated annealing to search the velocity parameters in the target layers. We test the method on synthetic and real data sets to study its use and advantages.

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