We evaluate the performance of traveltime tomography and full-wave inversion (FWI) for near-surface modeling using the data from a shallow seismic field experiment. Eight boreholes up to 20-m depth have been drilled along the seismic line traverse to verify the accuracy of the P-wave velocity-depth model estimated by seismic inversion. The velocity-depth model of the soil column estimated by traveltime tomography is in good agreement with the borehole data. We used the traveltime tomography model as an initial model and performed FWI. Full-wave acoustic and elastic inversions, however, have failed to converge to a velocity-depth model that desirably should be a high-resolution version of the model estimated by traveltime tomography. Moreover, there are significant discrepancies between the estimated models and the borehole data. It is understandable why full-wave acoustic inversion would fail — land seismic data inherently are elastic wavefields. The question is: Why does full-wave elastic inversion also fail? The strategy to prevent full-wave elastic inversion of vertical-component geophone data trapped in a local minimum that results in a physically implausible near-surface model may be cascaded inversion. Specifically, we perform traveltime tomography to estimate a P-wave velocity-depth model for the near-surface and Rayleigh-wave inversion to estimate an S-wave velocity-depth model for the near-surface, then use the resulting pairs of models as the initial models for the subsequent full-wave elastic inversion. Nonetheless, as demonstrated by the field data example here, the elastic-wave inversion yields a near-surface solution that still is not in agreement with the borehole data. Here, we investigate the limitations of FWI applied to land seismic data for near-surface modeling.

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