Full-waveform inversion is challenging in complex geologic areas. Even when provided with an accurate starting model, the inversion algorithms often struggle to update the velocity model. Compared with other areas in applied geophysics, including prior information in full-waveform inversion is still in its relative infancy. In part, this is due to the fact that it is difficult to incorporate prior information that relates to geologic settings where strong discontinuities in the velocity model dominate, because these settings call for nonsmooth regularizations. We tackle this problem by including constraints on the spatial variations and value ranges of the inverted velocities, as opposed to adding penalties to the objective, which is more customary in mainstream geophysical inversion. By demonstrating the lack of predictability of edge-preserving inversion when the regularization is in the form of an added penalty term, we advocate the inclusion of constraints instead. Our examples show that the latter leads to more predictable results and to significant improvements in the delineation of salt bodies when these constraints are relaxed gradually in combination with extending the search space to approximately fit the observed data but not the noise.

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