Differential semblance optimization (DSO) is a seismic waveform inversion approach. It has been developed to remove the limitation of conventional full-waveform inversion as a velocity model building tool when only reflected waves are available. It has connections with migration velocity analysis (MVA) techniques defined in the image domain to build macrovelocity models, with a split between the macromodel and the small-scale heterogeneities. Among the various DSO approaches, DSO-MVA has unique characteristics for velocity model building of complex structures, while ensuring the convergence to the global minimum in a local optimization approach: the wavefields are computed with the two-way wave equation operators, focusing panels are built in a survey-sinking mode, and the quality of the macrovelocity model is evaluated on common-image gathers in the subsurface-offset domain through a differential annihilator. We review the significant aspects that have been better understood over the past 15 years and discuss the way forward. The first identified issue has been the imprint of the small-scale heterogeneities on the macromodel update that is revealed with the use of wave equation-based Green’s functions and an ad hoc solution is subsequently developed by slightly modifying the definition of the objective function. A second important aspect has been the development of efficient approaches to compute the required quantitative migration based on approximate inverses to replace the previously used migrations. The issue of correctly interpreting the amplitudes has also moved into one of an improved model parameterization, i.e., from constant-density acoustics media to full acoustic media as a path toward fully viscoelastic media. Finally, we discuss the way forward with the challenges of extending DSO-MVA beyond the single scattering approximation, for processing diving waves and multiples, and also the challenge of numerical implementation, which remains critical even in two dimensions, for applicability to large-scale real data.

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