Real ray tracing in anisotropic viscoelastic media

Vaclav Vavrycuk


Ray tracing equations applicable to smoothly inhomogeneous anisotropic viscoelastic media are derived. The equations produce real rays, in contrast to previous ray-theoretical approaches, which deal with complex rays. The real rays are defined as the solutions of the Hamilton equations, with the Hamiltonian modified for viscoelastic media, and physically correspond to trajectories of high-frequency waves characterized by a real stationary phase. As a consequence, the complex eikonal equation is satisfied only approximately. The ray tracing equations are valid for weakly and moderately attenuating media. The rays are frequency-dependent and must be calculated for each frequency, separately.

Solving the ray tracing equations in viscoelastic anisotropy is more time consuming than in elastic anisotropy. The main difficulty is with determining the stationary slowness vector, which is generally complex-valued and inhomogeneous and must be computed at each time step of the ray tracing procedure. In viscoelastic isotropy, the ray tracing equations considerably simplify, because the stationary slowness vector is homogeneous. The computational time for tracing rays in isotropic elastic and viscoelastic media is the same. Using numerical examples, it is shown that ray fields in weakly attenuating media (Q higher than about 30) are almost indistinguishable from those in elastic media. For moderately attenuating anisotropic media (Q between 5-20), the differences in ray fields can be visible and significant.


Elasticity and anelasticity, body waves, seismic anisotropy, seismic attenuation, wave propagation.

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Geophys. J. Int., 175 (2008), 617-626.
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