We have developed a practical concept of compressional wave (P-wave) traveltime inversion in weakly to moderately anisotropic media of arbitrary symmetry and orientation. The concept provides sufficient freedom to explain and reproduce observed anisotropic seismic signatures to a high degree of accuracy. The key to this concept is the proposed P-wave anisotropy parameterization (A-parameters) that, together with the use of the weak-anisotropy approximation, leads to a significantly simplified theory. Here, as an example, we use a simple and transparent formula relating P-wave traveltimes to 15 P-wave A-parameters describing anisotropy of arbitrary symmetry. The formula is used in the inversion scheme, which does not require any a priori information about anisotropy symmetry and its orientation, and it is applicable to weak and moderate anisotropy. As the first step, we test applicability of the proposed scheme on a blind inversion of synthetic P-wave traveltimes generated in vertical seismic profile experiments in homogeneous models. Three models of varying anisotropy are used: tilted orthorhombic and triclinic models of moderate anisotropy (approximately 10%) and an orthorhombic model of strong anisotropy (>25%) with a horizontal plane of symmetry. In all cases, the inversion yields the complete set of 15 P-wave A-parameters, which make reconstruction of corresponding phase-velocity surfaces possible with high accuracy. The inversion scheme is robust with respect to noise and the source distribution pattern. Its quality depends on the angular illumination of the medium; we determine how the absence of nearly horizontal propagation directions affects inversion accuracy. The results of the inversion are applicable, for example, in migration or as a starting model for inversion methods, such as full-waveform inversion, if a model refinement is desired. A similar procedure could be designed for the inversion of S-wave traveltimes in anisotropic media of arbitrary symmetry.
The reprint can be obtained from Ivan Psencik.