In areas with irregular topography, complex near surface, and complex subsurface, there is much uncertainty in rms velocity estimation for prestack time migration, whereas interval velocity estimation for prestack depth migration is despairingly challenging. We often attribute the velocity uncertainty to various factors, including strong to severe lateral velocity variations, heterogeneity, anisotropy, mode conversion, and three-dimensional behavior of complex structures. Nevertheless, it is not easy to identify the cause of and account for the uncertainty as it often is a combination of the various factors. And the analyst struggles with much difficulty when estimating a velocity field, whether it is for prestack time or depth migration. Velocity uncertainty invariably gives rise to erroneously high or low migration velocities, which then causes two problems with prestack migration: (1) we fail to preserve reflector amplitudes, and (2) we also fail to position the reflectors correctly and focus diffractions to their apexes. We may choose to solve both problems simultaneously as we currently attempt to do with prestack migration workflows, or we may choose to solve them one after the other as we used to do in the 1980s and '90s by workflows that included dip-moveout correction. The quality of image gathers associated with prestack migration may not be adequate for velocity updating and verification and thus may or may not warrant the simultaneous solution. In areas with irregular topography, complex near surface, and complex subsurface, it may not. What then? I propose a workflow, applicable to both 2-D and 3-D seismic data, to solve the two problems with prestack time migration one after the other. The workflow is based on synthesis of a zero-offset wavefield to capture and preserve all reflections and diffractions, followed by zero-offset time migration.

You do not currently have access to this article.