The common ray approximation considerably simplifies the numerical algorithm of the coupling ray theory for S waves, but may introduce errors in travel times due to the perturbation from the common reference ray. These travel-time errors can deteriorate the coupling-ray-theory solution at high frequencies. It is thus of principal importance for numerical applications to estimate the errors due to the common ray approximation.
We derive the equations for estimating the travel-time errors due to the isotropic and anisotropic common ray approximations of the coupling ray theory. These equations represent the main result of the paper. The derivation is based on the general equations for the second-order perturbations of travel time. The accuracy of the anisotropic common ray approximation can be studied along the isotropic common rays, without tracing the anisotropic common rays.
The derived equations are numerically tested in three 1-D models of differing degree of anisotropy. The first-order and second-order perturbation expansions of travel time from the isotropic common rays to anisotropic-ray-theory rays are compared with the anisotropic-ray-theory travel times. The errors due to the isotropic common ray approximation and due to the anisotropic common ray approximation are estimated. In the numerical example, the errors of the anisotropic common ray approximation are considerably smaller than the errors of the isotropic common ray approximation.
The effect of the isotropic common ray approximation on the coupling-ray-theory synthetic seismograms is demonstrated graphically. For comparison, the effects of the quasi-isotropic projection of the Green tensor, of the quasi-isotropic approximation of the Christoffel matrix, and of the quasi-isotropic perturbation of travel times on the coupling-ray-theory synthetic seismograms are also shown. The projection of the travel-time errors on the relative errors of the time-harmonic Green tensor is briefly presented.
Coupling ray theory, common ray approximation, travel time, perturbation theory, seismic anisotropy, inhomogeneous media.
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