Inverting for salt geometry using full-waveform inversion (FWI) is a challenging task, mostly due to the lack of extremely low-frequency signal in the seismic data, the limited penetration depth of diving waves using typical acquisition offsets, and the difficulty in correctly modeling the amplitude (and kinematics) of reflection events associated with the salt boundary. However, recent advances in reflection FWI (RFWI) have allowed it to use deep reflection data, beyond the diving-wave limit, by extracting the tomographic term of the FWI reflection update, the so-called rabbit ears. Though lacking the resolution to fully resolve salt geometry, we can use RFWI updates as a guide for refinements in the salt interpretation, adding a partially data-driven element to salt velocity model building. In addition, we can use RFWI to update sediment velocities in complex regions surrounding salt, where ray-based approaches typically struggle. In reality, separating the effects of sediment velocity errors from salt geometry errors is not straightforward in many locations. Therefore, iterations of RFWI plus salt scenario tests may be necessary. Although it is still not the fully automatic method that has been envisioned for FWI, this combined approach can bring significant improvement to the subsalt image, as we examine on field data examples from the Gulf of Mexico.

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