Full-waveform inversion (FWI) has the potential to obtain an accurate velocity model. Nevertheless, it depends strongly on the low-frequency data and the initial model. When the starting model is far from the real model, FWI tends to converge to a local minimum. Based on a scale separation of the model (into the background model and reflectivity model), reflection waveform inversion (RWI) can separate out the tomography term in the conventional FWI kernel and invert for the long-wavelength components of the velocity model by smearing the reflected wave residuals along the transmission (or “rabbit-ear”) paths. We have developed a new elastic RWI method to build the P- and S-wave velocity macromodels. Our method exploits a traveltime-based misfit function to highlight the contribution of tomography terms in the sensitivity kernels and a sensitivity kernel decomposition scheme based on the P- and S-wave separation to suppress the high-wavenumber artifacts caused by the crosstalk of different wave modes. Numerical examples reveal that the gradients of the background models become sufficiently smooth owing to the decomposition of sensitivity kernels and the traveltime-based misfit function. We implement our elastic RWI in an alternating way. At each loop, the reflectivity model is generated by elastic least-squares reverse time migration, and then the background model is updated using the separated traveltime kernels. Our RWI method has been successfully applied in synthetic and real reflection seismic data. Inversion results demonstrate that the proposed method can retrieve preferable low-wavenumber components of the P- and S-wave velocity models, which are reliable to serve as a starting model for conventional elastic FWI. Also, our method with a two-stage inversion workflow, first updating the P-wave velocity using the PP kernels and then updating the S-wave velocity using the PS kernels, is feasible and robust even when P- and S-wave velocities have different structures.

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