Simulating propagation of separated wave modes in general anisotropic media, Part I: qP-wave propagators |

Wave equation is the central ingredient in characterizing wave propagation for seismic imaging and elastic parameters inversion. In isotropic media, it is common to use scalar acoustic wave equations to describe the propagation of seismic data as representing only P-wave energy (Yilmaz, 2001). Compared to the elastic wave equation, the acoustic wave equation is simpler and more efficient to use, and does not yield S-waves for modeling of P-waves. Anisotropic media are inherently described by elastic wave equations with P- and S-wave modes intrinsically coupled. It is well known that a S-wave passing through an anisotropic medium splits into two mutually orthogonal waves (Crampin, 1984). Generally the P-wave and the two S-waves are not polarized parallel and perpendicular to the wave vector, thus are called quasi-P (qP) and qausi-S (qS) waves. However, most anisotropic migration implementations do not use the full elastic anisotropic wave equation because of the high computational cost involved, and the difficulties in separating wavefields into different wave modes. Although an acoustic wave does not exist in anisotropic media, Alkhalifah (2000) introduced a pseudo-acoustic approximate dispersion relation for vertically transverse isotropic (VTI) media by setting the shear velocity along the axis of symmetry to zero, which leads to a fourth-order partial differential equation (PDE) in space-time domain. Following the same procedure, he also presented a pseudo-acoustic wave equation of sixth-order in vertical orthorhombic (ORT) anisotropic media (Alkhalifah, 2003). Many authors have implemented pseudo-acoustic VTI modeling and migration based on various coupled second-order PDE systems derived from Alkhalifah's dispersion relation (Klie and Toro, 2001; Hestholm, 2007; Alkhalifah, 2000; Zhou et al., 2006b). Alternatively, coupled first-order and second-order systems are derived starting from first principles (the equations of motion and Hooke's law) under the pseudo-acoustic approximation for VTI media (Duveneck and Bakker, 2011) and recently for orthorhombic media as well (Zhang and Zhang, 2011; Fowler and King, 2011). The pseudo-acoustic tilted transversely isotropic (TTI) or tilted orthorhombic wave equations can be obtained from their pseudo-acoustic VTI (or pseudo-acoustic vertical orthorhombic) counterparts by simply performing a coordinate rotation according to the directions of the symmetry axes (Zhou et al., 2006a; Fletcher et al., 2009). Pseudo-acoustic wave equations have been widely used for RTM in transversely isotropic (TI) media because they describe the kinematic signatures of qP-waves with sufficient accuracy and are simpler than their elastic counterparts, which leads to computational savings in practice.

On the other hand, the pseudo-acoustic approximation may result in some problems in characterizing wave propagation in anisotropic media. First, to enhance computational stability, pseudo-acoustic approximations reduce the freedom to choose the material parameters compared with their elastic counterparts (Grechka et al., 2004). Practitioners often observe instability in practice when the pseudo-acoustic equations are used in complex TI media (Fletcher et al., 2009; Bube et al., 2012; Zhang et al., 2011). Stable RTM implementations in TTI media can be achieved by using pseudo-acoustic wave equations derived directly from first principles (Duveneck and Bakker, 2011) using self-adjoint or covariant derivative operators (Macesanu, 2011; Zhang et al., 2011). Second, the widely-used pseudo-acoustic approximation still results in significant shear wave presence in both modeling data and RTM images (Grechka et al., 2004; Zhang et al., 2003; Jin et al., 2011). It is not easy to get rid of qSV-waves from the wavefields simulated by the pseudo-acoustic wave equations when a full waveform modeling for qP-wave is required. Placing both sources and receivers into an artificial isotropic or elliptic anisotropic acoustic layer could eliminate many of the undesired qSV-wave energy (Alkhalifah, 2000), but the propagated qP-wave may get converted to qSV-wave and the qSV-wave might get converted back to qP-wave in other portions of the model. A projection filtering based on an approximate representation of characteristic-waveform of qP-waves was suggested to suppress undesired qSV-wave energy at each output time step (Zhang et al., 2009). But qS-wave artifacts still remain and qP-wave amplitudes may be not correctly restored due to the approximation introduced in the used wave equation. To avoid the qSV-wave energy completely, different approaches have recently been proposed to model the pure qP-wave propagation in VTI and TTI media. The optimized separable approximation (Liu et al., 2009; Du et al., 2010; Zhang and Zhang, 2009), the pseudo-analytical method (Etgen and Brandsberg-Dahl, 2009), the low-rank approximation (Fomel et al., 2013), the Fourier finite-difference method (Song and Fomel, 2011) and the rapid expansion method (Pestana and Stoffa, 2010) belong to this category.

In fact, anisotropic phenomena are especially noticeable in shear and mode-converted wavefields. Therefore, modeling of anisotropic shear waves may be important both on theoretical and practical aspects. Liu et al. (2009) factorized the pseudo-acoustic VTI dispersion relation and obtained two pseudo-partial differential (PPD) equations, of which the qP-wave equation is well-posed for any value of the anisotropic parameters, but the qSV-wave equation becomes well-posed only when the condition is satisfied. These PPD equations are very hard to solve in heterogeneous media unless further approximations are introduced (Liu et al., 2009; Chu et al., 2011) or recently developed FFT-based approaches are used (Pestana et al., 2011; Song and Fomel, 2011; Fomel et al., 2013). Note that some of the above efforts to model pure-mode wavefields suffer from accuracy loss more or less due to the approximations to the phase velocities or dispersion relations. Furthermore, these pure-mode propagators only consider the phase term in wave propagation, so they are appropriate for seismic migration but not necessarily for accurate seismic modeling, which may require taking account of amplitude effects and other elastic phenomena such as mode conversion.

In kinematics, there are various forms equivalent to the original first- or second-order elastic wave equations. Mathematically, analysis of the dispersion relation as matrix eigenvalue system allows one to generate equivalent coupled linear second-order systems by similarity transformations (Fowler et al., 2010). Accordingly, Kang and Cheng (2011) proposed new coupled second-order systems for both qP- and qS-waves in TI media by applying specified similarity transformations to the Christoffel equation. Their coupled system for qP-waves represents dominantly the energy propagation of scalar qP-waves while that for qSV-waves propagates dominantly the scalar qSV-wave energy. However, each of the two systems still contains relatively weak residual energy of the other mode. Cheng and Kang (2012) and Kang and Cheng (2012) called such coupled systems ``pseudo-pure-mode wave equations'' and further proposed an approach to get separated qP- or qS-wave data from the pseudo-pure-mode wavefields in general anisotropic media. In the two articles of this series, we demonstrate how to simulate propagation of separated wave-modes based on a new simplified description of wave propagation in general anisotropic media. We shall focus on qP- and qS-waves in each article separately.

The first paper is structured as follows: First, we revisit the plane-wave analysis of the full elastic anisotropic wave equation. Then we introduce a similarity transformation to the Christoffel equation required to derive the pseudo-pure-mode qP-wave equation, and give the simplified forms under pseudo-acoustic or/and isotropic approximations to illustrate the physical interpretation. After that, we discuss how to obtain separated qP-wave data from the extrapolated wavefields coupled with residual qS-waves. Finally, we show numerical examples to demonstrate the features and advantages of our approach in wavefield modeling and RTM in TI and orthorhombic media.

Simulating propagation of separated wave modes in general anisotropic media, Part I: qP-wave propagators |

2014-06-24