The safety and efficiency of tunnel construction depend on the knowledge of complex geologic conditions. Hence, an accurate forward-prospecting technique is required to detect unexpected inhomogeneous geologic structures ahead of tunnel construction. As an accurate method to image geologic heterogeneities, elastic reverse time migration (ERTM) is introduced to the field of tunnel forward prospecting. However, in the tunnel environment, ERTM images may suffer from the interference of crosstalk artifacts, which are caused by converted waves on tunnel surfaces. Therefore, considering the actual influence of the tunnel body, the decoupled nonconversion elastic equation was incorporated into traditional ERTM. This method prevents the generation of converted waves but ensures independent P- and S-wave propagation. In addition, wave-mode separation for raw seismic data is required in our approach. Synthetic examples based on the real geologic environment of tunnels show that our method produces satisfactory results for P-wave and S-wave imaging and the S-wave can produce a better imaging effect in tunnels. Finally, we apply our method to the seismic data obtained from a real highway tunnel construction site to demonstrate its performance in real-world applications. The results indicate that the migrated images can help to accurately constrain the geologic formations ahead of the tunnel face.

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