Diffraction imaging is important for high-resolution characterization of small subsurface heterogeneities. However, due to geometry limitations and noise distortion, conventional diffraction imaging methods may produce low-quality images. We have adopted a periodic plane-wave least-squares reverse time migration method for diffractions to improve the image quality of heterogeneities. The method reformulates diffraction imaging as an inverse problem using the Born modeling operator and its adjoint operator derived in the periodic plane-wave domain. The inverse problem is implemented for diffractions separated by a plane-wave destruction filter from the periodic plane-wave sections. Because the plane-wave destruction filter may fail to eliminate hyperbolic reflections and noise, we adopt a hyperbolic misfit function to minimize a weighted residual using an iteratively reweighted least-squares algorithm and thereby reduce residual reflections and noise. Synthetic and field data tests show that the adopted method can significantly improve the image quality of subsalt and deep heterogeneities. Compared with reverse time migration, it produces better images with fewer artifacts, higher resolution, and more balanced amplitude. Therefore, the adopted method can accurately characterize small heterogeneities and provide a reliable input for seismic interpretation in the prediction of hydrocarbon reservoirs.

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