Although the resolution of a seismic image is ultimately bound by the spatial and temporal sampling of the acquired seismic data, the seismic images obtained through conventional imaging methods normally fall very short of this limit. Conventional seismic imaging methods take a piecemeal approach to imaging problems with many steps designed in preprocessing, velocity model building, migration, and postprocessing to solve one or a few specific issues at each step. The inefficacies of each step and the disconnects between them lead to various issues such as velocity errors, residual noise and multiples, illumination holes, and migration swings that prevent conventional imaging methods from obtaining a high-resolution image with good signal-to-noise (S/N) and well-focused details. In contrast, full-waveform inversion (FWI) imaging models and uses the full-wavefield data including primaries and multiples and reflection and transmission waves to iteratively invert for the velocity and reflectivity in one go. It is a systemic approach to address imaging issues. FWI imaging has proven to be a superior method over conventional imaging methods because it provides seismic images with greatly improved illumination, S/N, focusing, and resolution. We demonstrate with a towed-streamer data set and an ocean-bottom-node (OBN) data set that FWI imaging with a frequency close to the temporal resolution limit of seismic data (100 Hz or higher) can provide seismic images with unprecedented resolution from the acquired seismic data. This has been impossible to achieve with conventional imaging methods. Moreover, incorporating more accurate physics into FWI imaging (e.g., upgrading the modeling engine from acoustic to elastic) can further improve the seismic resolution substantially. Elastic FWI imaging can further reduce the mismatch between modeled and recorded data, especially around bodies of large impedance contrast such as salt. It appreciably improves the S/N and resolution of the inverted images. We show with an OBN data set in the Gulf of Mexico that elastic FWI imaging further improves the resolution of salt models and subsalt images over its acoustic counterpart.

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