Wave field continuation transforms seismic record section data directly into velocity-depth space, simultaneously providing an estimate of model nonuniqueness. This inversion, previously used for reflection and refraction data, converts readily to spherical earth problems through simple adjustments in each of the two linear transformations: the slant stack and downward continuation. Because the time resolution inherent in the data transforms to depth resolution in the model space, this method is extremely useful for analysis of data compatibility with preexisting models and direct comparison between data sets, as well as the complete inversion of raw data for structure. Wave field inversion demands densely sampled, digital data, and assumes source coherency and lateral homogeneity along the profile.
We test this technique for upper mantle analysis using a previously studied, large, array-recorded data set representative of structure beneath the Gulf of California. We compare slant stacks and downward continuations of both synthetic and data record sections to illustrate the method's resolution capability. Wave field continuation proves particularly useful in comparing entire data sets to various models; even subtle structural differences are resolvable given good data quality.