Viscoelastic full-waveform inversion is applied to walk-away vertical seismic profile data acquired at a producing heavy-oil field in Western Canada for the determination of subsurface velocity models (P-wave velocity α and S-wave velocity β) and attenuation models (P-wave quality factor Qα and S-wave quality factor Qβ). To mitigate strong velocity-attenuation trade-offs, a two-stage approach is adopted. In Stage I, α and β models are first inverted using a standard waveform-difference (WD) misfit function. Following this, in Stage II, different amplitude-based misfit functions are used to estimate the Qα and Qβ models. Compared to the traditional WD misfit function, the amplitude-based misfit functions exhibit stronger sensitivity to attenuation anomalies and appear to be able to invert Qα and Qβ models more reliably in the presence of velocity errors. Overall, the root-mean-square amplitude-ratio and spectral amplitude-ratio misfit functions outperform other misfit function choices. In the final outputs of our inversion, significant drops in the α to β ratio (~1.6) and Poisson’s ratio (~0.23) are apparent within the Clearwater Formation (depth ~0.45–0.50 km) of the Mannville Group in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Strong Qα (~20) and Qβ (~15) anomalies are also evident in this zone. These observations provide information to help identify the target attenuative reservoir saturated with heavy-oil resources.

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