Automatic traveltime picking using the instantaneous traveltime |

where is the Fourier transform of and denotes the imaginary part. The rationale behind this seemingly arbitrary definition is that for the ideal case in which is a delta function occurring at time , i.e. , equals the time of occurrence of the delta function for all frequencies, namely .

If is a band-limited delta function, then does not equal but rather is approximately equal to , within the bandwidth of (see Figure 1(a)). Consequently, the dependence of on frequency can be dropped by simply averaging within the bandwidth of . In the case that is indeed a signal that signifies an event, such as the band-limited spike of Figure 1(a), averaging over the frequencies within the bandwidth of the signal yields a meaningful number, namely the time of occurrence of the event. On the other hand, if is random noise or even insufficiently spiky, then varies considerably with frequency (Figures 1(b), 1(c)). In this case, averaging of yields a meaningless number. This feature can be used to identify events in the seismic data.

rick,noiz,chrp
Various signals (left) and their mean traveltimes as a function of frequency (right). (a) Band-limited spike. (b) Random noise. (c) Quasi-sinusoid (simulates Vibroseis harmonics).
Figure 1. |
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The quantity
is essentially the derivative of the phase of
with respect to frequency, also referred to as group delay or envelope delay. In fact it has been used as such by Stoffa et al. (1974) to compute a continuous phase curve and circumvent the phase-wrapping problem in homomorphic deconvolution. However, we prefer to use the term *traveltime* for reasons that are explained below.

If we assume a signal consisting of two spikes at and , respectively, i.e., , we get

(2) |

where are coefficients that depend on , , and and . In general, for a signal , then

where . In other words, is a weighted sum of the times of arrivals of the different signals. By dropping the dependence on the frequency, we get the

From the above discussion, it is clear that the mean traveltime attribute is not much of use, if it is to be computed on the whole trace. The Fourier transform used in equation 1 performs an integration over the observed time interval. The localized temporal information is therefore lost. What is needed is a time-frequency transform to replace the Fourier transform in equation 1 such that the traveltime attribute becomes localized in time as well. In this way, different arrivals are isolated from one another and the computed traveltimes are more accurate. The *instantaneous traveltime*
is therefore defined as

where now denotes an appropriate time-frequency transform and is an appropriate operator or mapping from the frequency domain into a single number. In the above definition, we intentionally let the time-frequency transform as well as the mapping undefined as different transforms and/or operators may be more effective depending on the type of data under examination. We also note that only the forward transform is employed in equation 4 and not the inverse. This allows for more flexibility on the choice of the transform used to capture the nonstationary behavior of the seismic traces as the transform need not have an inverse.

In the next two subsections, we discuss these two issues, namely the choices of the time-frequency transform and the mapping operator.

Automatic traveltime picking using the instantaneous traveltime |

2013-04-02