Accurate subsurface velocity models are crucial for geological interpretations based on seismic depth images. Seismic reflection tomography is an effective iterative method to update and refine a preliminary velocity model for depth imaging. Based on residual move-out analysis of reflectors in common image point gathers, an update of the velocity is estimated by a ray-based tomography. To stabilize the tomography, several preconditioning strategies exist. Most critical is the estimation of the depth error to account for the residual move-out of the reflector in the common image point gathers. Because the depth errors for many closely spaced image gathers must be picked, manual picking is extremely time-consuming, human biased, and not reproducible. Data-driven picking algorithms based on coherence or semblance analysis are widely used for hyperbolic or linear events. However, for complex-shaped depth events, purely data-driven picking is difficult. To overcome this, the warping method named non-rigid matching is used to estimate a depth error displacement field. Warping is used, for example, to merge photographic images or to match two seismic images from time-lapse data. By matching a common image point gather against its duplicate that has been shifted by one offset position, a locally smooth-shaped displacement field is calculated for each data sample by gather matching. Depending on the complexity of the subsurface, sample tracking through the displacement field along predefined horizons or on a simple regular grid yields discrete depth error values for the tomography. The application to a multi-channel seismic line across the Sunda subduction zone offshore Lombok island, Indonesia, illustrates the approach and documents the advantages of the method to estimate a detailed velocity structure in a complex tectonic regime. By incorporating the warping scheme into the reflection tomography, we demonstrate an increase in the velocity resolution and precision by improving the data-driven accuracy of depth error picks with arbitrary shapes. This approach offers the possibility to use the full capacities of tomography and further leads to more accurate interpretations of complex geological structures.

Reflection tomography and pre-stack depth migration of multi-channel seismic reflection (MCS) data have evolved into standard seismic data processing routines in recent decades, owing to the rapid development of CPU performance and the effective adaption of seismic data processing software. Pre-stack depth migration (PSDM) of near-vertical reflections is the algorithm of choice in reflection seismology to properly image steeply dipping reflectors while accounting for non-hyperbolic move-out caused by lateral velocity variations (Yilmaz, 2001; Jones et al., 2008) and thus is applied in tectonically and structurally complex geological settings in 2-D and 3-D migration strategies (Collot et al., 2011; Han et al., 2017; Li et al., 2018; Shiraishi et al., 2019). However, the quality of subsurface imaging depends on the seismic velocity model that is used for the migration. An exact determination of the velocity field is thus crucial to retrieve an optimal subsurface image.

The velocity field may be determined during PSDM by performing velocity analysis on selected locations using depth-focusing error analysis (Audebert and Diet, 2008; MacKay and Abma, 1992) or hyperbolic residual move-out (RMO) correction of common image point (CIP) gathers followed by a simple vertical Dix inversion (Dix, 1955) at each location independently. Thus a structural velocity model (Audebert et al., 1997) may be built manually by defining depth horizons. Manual picking or pre-definition of depth horizons, however, are not only time-consuming for seismic processors but, more importantly, may also lead to a subjective interpretation bias (Jones, 2003).

In contrast, the velocity model design based on reflection tomography inverts all CIP locations simultaneously to update the velocity structure and yields a more complete solution than manually designed velocity models (Bishop et al., 1985; Van Trier, 1990; Stork, 1992; Kosloff et al., 1996). While the Dix inversion strips off the layers from top to bottom in a flat-layer approach, the reflection tomography accounts for dipping layers and lateral velocity changes within the streamer length (Jones, 2010). The general procedure for reflection tomography is to go into the pre-stack migrated CIP offset domain and to measure the hyperbolic residual move-out of the depth misalignment (also called depth error) by manual picking or by automatic scanning techniques (Hardy, 2003; Claerbout, 1992). Subsequently, the depth error is inverted to velocity changes to flatten the reflector signals over the entire offset range (Jones et al., 2008; Fruehn et al., 2008; Riedel et al., 2019). For cases where the MCS data do not provide sufficient move-out sensitivity to estimate reliable velocities (i.e. deep target depth), several velocity inversion strategies have been established to combine near-vertical reflections, wide-angle (WA) reflections, and refracted events (Gras et al., 2019; Górszczyk et al., 2019; Melendez et al., 2019).

By relating changes of the CIP depth errors to changes in velocities along source–receiver rays in the direction normal to the local reflector dip, a new velocity can be calculated to minimize the CIP depth errors. To solve the general non-linear inverse tomographic problem, the velocity error is gauged iteratively, inverted, and updated as depicted by the loop in Fig. 1.

Processing scheme using non-rigid matching in reflection tomography to update the velocity field during pre-stack depth migration of multi-channel seismic reflection data. The main processing steps are marked in red.

To circumnavigate these issues and increase the picking accuracy, we applied a warping technique called “non-rigid matching” (NRM). By calculating the depth error shift of seismic trace samples by comparing neighbouring traces along the complete offset of closely spaced CIP gathers, we improve the depth error estimation without any curvature assumption or predefined depth horizons of the subsurface structure.

Here we present the NRM technique for the depth error estimation as a purely data-driven automatic picking method. We demonstrate the advantages and limitations of the NRM method using a synthetic gather. We then apply a combination of NRM with ray-based reflection tomography to field data of pre-stack depth-migrated seismic sections from the Sunda convergent margin offshore Lombok island, Indonesia. As initial velocity, a wide-angle tomographic inversion of a collocated 2-D ocean-bottom seismometer (OBS) seismic line was used. The reflection profile is characterized by an accretionary prism of strongly folded sediment with limited reflector continuity, which makes manual velocity estimation extremely challenging.

The non-rigid matching (NRM) or “warping” methods are computer-based image matching technologies that aim to estimate a flow pattern (vector displacement in three dimensions) of a sequence of images with additional smoothness constraints (Horn and Schunck, 1981; Wolberg, 1990). Compared to a rigid matching like translation, rotation, or even affine transformation, NRM is developed to handle situations when the transformation is non-linear (Pappu et al., 1996). The benefit of NRM regarding the non-linear transformation substantially improves seismic imaging and inversion methods through matching and tracking horizontal and vertical displacements of seismic events with high accuracy in the depth and time domains.

NRM or warping applications were first introduced for 3-D time-lapse seismic data by comparing two seismic cubes acquired at different acquisition times with a special focus on depth formation changes resulting from hydrocarbon production (e.g. Rickett and Lumley, 2001; Aarre, 2008; Tomar et al., 2017). The image displacement warping method of Hall (2006) estimates a full 3-D local vector deviation employing an iterative search of maximum correlation using a deformable mesh for sensitivity and quality analysis, whereas Hale (2009, 2013) based his dynamic image warping (DIW) on 1-D cross-correlation optimization schemes in each dimension to estimate the vector displacements. By solving a set of 1-D equations and separately including spectral whitening and a Gaussian low-pass filter, a stable 3-D solution is achieved iteratively by minimizing the difference of the reference and the current wavefield corrected by the estimated displacements. This method is able to calculate rapid and large shifts, both in time/depth and in space, and overcomes the restrictions of limited shifts due to time/depth windowing used by cross-correlation methods (Zhang et al., 2014). In contrast, the NRM method introduced by Nickel et al. (1999) uses 1-D Taylor expansions for each vector component, which are separately solved for each dimension to converge to a 3-D solution by minimizing the difference of the reference section and the current wavefield corrected by the estimated displacements, as in the warping method of Hale (2009).

In this study, we use the 1-D displacement version (only in the

The optimization problem of a minimized

Thus, the optimization problem of

To stabilize the results, and especially not to disturb the waveform by the estimated depth-variant displacements, additional constraints are implemented, e.g. band-limited application of the seismic traces during the iterations of matching starting from the lowest wavenumber, smoothing for spatial continuity, and avoiding vertical shifts that would swap neighbouring depth samples. It should be noted that the estimated displacements to match two sections are not based on peak amplitudes, but to minimize the band-limited amplitude difference between them.

A number of new geophysical applications for pre-stack event tracking using the warping technique have been introduced in the scientific community in recent decades (e.g. Perez and Marfurt, 2008; Reiche and Berkels, 2018; Sripanich et al., 2020). The main objective of all these applications is to efficiently define a reference data ensemble and calculate the displacement shift from any data ensemble to match the reference data ensemble. The unique selection of a reference ensemble depends on the individual purpose of the application. Perez and Marfurt (2008) estimated vertical and spatial displacements with a modified cross-correlation method from Rickett and Lumley (2001). A displacement estimation between 3-D common angle binned migrated sections to a reference stacked volume was used to improve the stack quality and resolution. Reiche and Berkels (2018) sorted the migration data into common offset sections and selected the smallest offset section as a reference section and calculated the displacement from all other offset sections to the smallest offset section in order to calculate the move-out curvature and flatten the common-mid-point (CMP) gather. Sripanich et al. (2020) estimated reflection move-out dip slopes on 3-D CMP gathers directly by a plane-wave destruction filter (Fomel, 2002) to flatten events by nonstationary filters. This processing sequence can be seen as a warping process by an application of time-variant static corrections.

The wide range of possible applications for lateral and vertical displacement estimations even in three dimensions make the NRM and DIW attractive, e.g. quantitative estimations of vertical and horizontal reflector shifts due to repositioning of re-migrated data. As both methods are very similar in that they iteratively minimize the difference of two sections, we use only the NRM for the application of estimating the RMO. The calculation of vertical shifts between a reference section and an actual section is the simplest application and allows us to compare the results to a plane-wave destruction filter (PWD), which is commonly used for estimations of reflector dips.

In this study's NRM application, we calculate the 1-D NRM displacement field in pre-stack depth-migrated CIP volume to quantify the smoothed trace-to-trace displacement in CIP gathers by manipulating the traces in procedures below. As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the application of NRM for the vertical displacement calculation in a CIP domain also requires a reference CIP gather, similar to the time-lapse application. This can be achieved with a relative reference scheme by duplicating the current CIP gather and shifting the traces laterally to larger offsets by one trace position to form the reference gather. Thus, the calculated relative 1-D displacement shift through Eqs. (1)–(4) between the two gathers correspond then to vertical and spatial smooth event slope dips of a trace to its previous trace. As neighbouring traces of a CIP gather show a strong similarity of the waveform and amplitude without spatial aliasing, the NRM gather matching can then be used to estimate the vertical displacement also known as depth error without any physical assumptions. In this way, the application of NRM for CIP gathers overcomes the limitation of residual move-out estimations inherent in conventional semblance scanning (Neidell and Taner, 1971) of predefined functions like linear, parabolic, or even higher-order curvatures.

For field MCS data, due to the complex subsurface structure and seismic acquisition geometry, as well as the anisotropic physical world, three main unique classified situations represent the main difficulties for analysing the residual move-out. To test the advantages and shortcomings of the warping method we created a synthetic CIP gather in Fig. 2a. The gather consists of three sets of events including 0.1 % background noise of the maximum amplitude from top to bottom: (1) a symmetrical lateral shifted diffraction-like event with positive amplitude, which is unrealistic but was included because it cannot be approximated by any linear, parabolic, or hyperbolic standard move-out correction; (2) two intersecting parabolic curvature events with opposite polarity. To get the under-corrected positive polarity event to align horizontally, the velocity above it must be reduced whereas aligning the deeper, over-corrected negative-polarity event requires an increase in velocity above it. This situation occurs if the background velocity model is not well adapted to the data, e.g. a vertical velocity increase between the two events; and (3) one parabolic event with a local curvature anomaly, offset-dependent wavelet amplitude, and frequency attenuation. To get the under-corrected general trend of the event horizontally aligned the velocity above must be decreased. To further align the local curvature anomaly the velocity above must locally be increased to fully flatten the signals over the complete offset range.

Because the NRM displacement field in Fig. 2b is calculated in a relative referenced scheme of a trace to its previous trace, the relative dip displacements correspond to a local dip field. The red colour of positive values in each trace shown in Fig. 2b suggests that a corresponding trace sample in Fig. 2a should be shifted downward to match and align to its previous trace sample by the application of the displacement field values. Blue-coloured negative values require shifting in the opposite (i.e. upward) direction. A zero-displacement value appearing at the apex of the symmetrical diffraction events illustrates the fact that the dipping angle at this location of the event is zero. The NRM field of these three sets of synthetic events follows the general local dip trend well.

Since the NRM field contains the full information of the relative depth-variant shifts of the seismic events, the NRM field can be used to flatten
the input seismic section, which has several advantages for the depth error
calculation and as quality control of the validity of the displacement
field. Intuitively the second trace of Fig. 2a must be depth-variant shifted
by the amplitudes of the second trace of the NRM field in Fig. 2b to get
aligned to the first trace. To further align the third trace of Fig. 2a, the
trace must be depth-variant shifted by the amplitude of the third trace of
the NRM field in Fig. 2b and additionally shifted by the previous depth corrections which
were applied to the second trace. The following equations are documented in
the online repository (

Based on the above discussion, any intermediate irregular index

The NRM flattened events by the recursive depth-variant correction in Fig. 2c provide quality control of displacement calculation for these three special situations. Generally, the squeeze-and-stretch effect of the non-linear displacement correction is inevitable for a multi-trace gather, but as shown here, the displacement shift correction adequately dealt with most of the simulated examples. The first symmetrical diffraction events get optimally flattened, with no significant change of the wavelet shape. The third non-linear undulation with a wavelet variation effect is effectively flattened at the peak amplitude, but strong wavelet stretch is visible. After the NRM displacement correction, the wavelets at mid-offsets (1.5 to 2.5 km) get squeezed and at far offsets (3.5 to 4.0 km) stretched equivalent to normal move-out stretch effects. The crossing region of the two intersecting events is flattened well but suffers from a significant stretch effect, which introduces substantial artificial low-frequency energy between the two events between offset 2.5 and 3.5 km. Due to the constraint that vertical shifts cannot swap neighbouring depth samples, a false event relation occurred beyond 3 km offset, as clearly seen in Fig. 2c by the opposite signal polarity along the two flattened events (between 3.2 and 3.27 km depth). As a result, in a final stacking procedure of this CIP gather, the NRM displacement correction will lead to wavelet stretching, squeezing artefacts, and destructive summation.

An application of the same procedure of Eqs. (5)–(7) to the NRM field

As the flattened NRM relative displacement field contains the information of
relative depth shift from trace to trace along depth slices, the estimation
of the depth error is achievable by predefining a start tracking depth at
the first trace (nearest offset) and analysing the corresponding depth slice
of the flattened NRM field in Fig. 2d. Given a pre-defined starting pick

As a result, all RMO depth error picks follow the amplitude peaks of the seismic events except for the “X”-shaped interfering reflectors. The NRM displacements are misled by the crossing point and switch to an event that should not be followed. This kind of “V”-shaped depth error information will undermine the reliability of the tomographic result because the depth error branch is a combination of two different events. To avoid this mismatch a quality factor is introduced and assigned to each individual pick along the depth error branch. A sliding trace summation window along a depth slice or comparison of a near-offset stack to the individual events can be used. In this example, a sliding trace summation would detect a rapid decrease in quality due to the polarity change resulting in a destructive summation. Picks with lower quality as a predefined threshold can be deleted. In this special case, the two depth error branches of the intersecting events will be split into four individual depth error branches which the reflection tomography will handle correctly as four independent reflection events. If these crossing events happen as a result of interfering noise like surface-related or interbed multiples, the unwanted events should be attenuated prior to NRM by a dip filter in the CIP gather (Fig. 1).

To verify the accuracy of the NRM method we compared the picking results of the NRM method to a plane-wave destruction filter PWD method (Fig. 3). The PWD method is splitting the data into spatially and temporal windows and assumes that the slopes are stationary within each window (Fomel, 2002; Xue et al., 2019). In contrast, the NRM method is iteratively minimizing the amplitude difference (Eqs. 1–4) between an adjusted gather and a reference gather for all events simultaneously. For both methods, the estimated depth error picks in Fig. 3a are near the maximum amplitude peak of the events. On the far offset traces with reduced amplitudes the NRM shows less accuracy (Fig. 3b). Due to the strategy by the NRM method to minimize the band-limited amplitude difference, the strongest near-offset amplitude events will dominate this inversion result. This strategy is useful by comparing two seismic cubes with a special focus on depth or spatial shifts to reduce distortions from low-amplitude events. To avoid small-amplitude events in a CIP gather being underdetermined in their dip estimation an additional gain balancing is recommended before an NRM application.

Giving predefined starting depths for the RMO tracking is applicable in a simple synthetic test which contains only few continuous reflectors. However, it is unrealistic to define each reflector's starting depth in real data or complex synthetic examples, which could have several tens of effective reflectors in one migrated CIP gather (Fig. 4a). An efficient approach to determine the reflectors' start-tracking depth is by analysing the flattened CIP gather (Fig. 4c) by a semblance-weighted grid-based scheme.

A semblance

By conducting semblance calculation on the NRM-flattened seismic section
(Fig. 4c), the flattened section could not only provide NRM field's quality
control but also sheds light on selecting effective reflectors and
determining the starting depth for RMOs' auto-tracking. By calculating the
semblance value for each depth slice along the flattened seismic section,
one can reject unwanted picks, by setting up a threshold of semblance
limitation (e.g. 0.5). In the synthetic example with several reflectors
(Fig. 4a), RMO picks are digitized in zones of good reflector continuity
(semblance

Because the plane-wave destruction filter (PWD) is widely used to estimate the move-out dip slopes on seismic sections or gathers (Fomel, 2002; Sripanich et al., 2020), we applied the outlined processing sequence of displacement corrections based on a PWD filter in the online repository as an alternative method to the NRM method.

The basic concept of iterative ray-based grid tomography is to find
subsurface velocity perturbations that minimize the residual move-out depth
error picks of the initial migrated CIP gathers (Woodward et al., 2008).
Conditions that must be fulfilled are preserved arrival times. The
calculated arrival time

The CIP tomography must find the velocity change

The choice of the parameters of weight

If the initial velocity is not well determined, e.g. smoothed depth-converted stacking velocities or depth-converted pre-stack time migration
velocities, a long-wavelength to short-wavelength velocity update is a
preferred strategy by reducing the smoothing scale length

If an initial background velocity is well determined, e.g. depth-focusing analysis from pre-stack depth-migrated data, each iteration can be applied immediately with multiple scale lengths, starting from the longest to shortest scale length for each velocity update. Independent of the grid-based reflection tomographic inversion strategy it is common to stop the iterations if an iteration does not contribute any more to the flatness of the CIP residual move-out. Qualitative control will give a comparison of the reflectors' horizontal alignment in the CIP gather with respect to a previous iteration or initial iteration. A more quantitative measure to stop an inversion is to define a lower limit of percentage velocity change which must be achieved (e.g. 3 %).

In contrast to the grid-based tomography, where vertical and horizontal velocity gradients are determined during the inversion, the layer-based tomography updates the lateral velocity variation between two user-defined horizons with a predefined vertical velocity gradient. A comparison of layer-based and grid-based tomography results can be found in Riedel et al. (2019) and Sugrue et al. (2004). Model areas in which a priori velocities are known (e.g. the water column above the seafloor) and hybrid models are used to avoid tomographic velocity updates propagating into selected areas. Furthermore, first-order velocity contrasts, resulting in ray-path bending are problematic as they cannot be inverted by finite grid size. Here hybrid models delivered the best results as shown by Jones et al. (2007) and Fruehn et al. (2008). For most of the studies it is common that the grid-based tomography was applied to moderate layered structures in combination with the hyperbolic curvature scanning technique from Hardy (2003) to estimate the depth error in the CIP domain. An application result of a grid-based tomography combined with the NRM technique in a moderate layered structure is shown in Crutchley et al. (2020).

An application of the NRM common image point depth error estimation in combination with an iterative grid-based tomography approach will be presented here in detail for three different structural settings along a profile crossing the Java trench. The complexity of the data examples increases from moderate horizontal layering, to dipping layered reflections, up to small disrupted dipping reflector elements.

In contrast to the processing by Lüschen et al. (2011), where the velocity model was built iteratively from interpreted depth-focusing analysis in a top-down approach, we used a wide-angle tomography model as initial velocity in combination with a data-driven grid-based reflection tomography. The use of wide-angle and refracted velocities may be influenced by anisotropy but gives the most confident velocity in the deeper subsurface due to the limited streamer length.

The multi-channel 2-D reflection seismic profile BGR06-313 that we use in
three field examples was acquired by a 3000 m long, 240-channel digital
streamer with a group distance of 12.5 m at a towing depth of 6 m. A two-string G-Gun array of 3080 in.

Map of the study area offshore southern Java, created by the authors using the open-source software Generic Mapping Tools (GMT). Local multi-beam bathymetry data were acquired during the SO190 cruise and overlain on the global GEBCO_2020 grid (GEBCO Bathymetric Compilation Group, 2020). The location of the multi-channel and collocated wide-angle seismic profile is shown by a black line. Three examples at locations A, B, and C (marked in red) of the NRM-based velocity update for the depth tomography and pre-stack depth migration result are discussed in detail. Example A is located at shallow depth with simple complexity, whereas examples B and C are crossing the subduction trench and accretionary wedge (yellow line) and show highly complex structures where standard velocity analyses mostly fail because of discontinuous highly dipping structures.

The seafloor depth ranges from 1.5 km near the shore on the northern part of the line to 6.5 km in the deep-sea trench. Details of our seismic processing sequence are provided in Table 1. In preparation for the Kirchhoff PSDM, the multiple reflections have been attenuated using a free surface multiple prediction (Verschuur et al., 1992) followed by a frequency-split 2-D adaptive least-square subtraction (Robinson and Treitel, 2000; Guitton and Verschuur, 2004), and a Radon transform dip filter (Hampson, 1986).

Seismic processing sequences and image grid sizes.

The initial velocity model for the reflection depth tomography was merged
from an OBS velocity tomographic inversion of a collocated 2-D refraction
seismic line covered by 46 OBSs with a spacing of 6 km (Planert et al., 2010)
and a velocity model estimated from the near-seafloor structure at coarsely
sampled CMP locations by interactive semblance velocity analysis. This near-subseafloor velocity adjustment was needed because the MCS reflection and
OBS acquisitions were split into two cruise legs and both profiles did not
completely coincide as seen by the mismatch of the seafloor depth at the
lower slope and the trench axis (Fig. 6a). Due to a gap of three OBS
positions in the trench axis the velocity structure was not well determined
near the trench axis with lower-slope sediment velocities of more than 3800 m s

As an additional constraint for the tomography, a hybrid model with the seafloor as a fixed boundary was chosen to avoid velocity changes propagating into the water column, resulting in depth changes of the seafloor. This was especially needed at the trench axis where side reflections and cross-dipping structures due to the rough seafloor topography were observed (Fig. 5). A regional depth-variant water velocity (Table 2) was extracted from the Climatological Atlas of the World Ocean multibeam (MB) system (Levitus, 1983) and used for the entire profile.

Regional depth-variant water velocity extracted from the Climatological Atlas of the World Ocean MB system (Levitus, 1983).

It should be noted that the wide-angle velocity could not be updated at a depth greater than 4 km below the seafloor during the initial velocity building and the subsequent reflection tomographic inversion since the limited streamer length (3 km) does not provide enough residual move-out sensitivity.

For the automatic residual NRM picking (see Fig. 4c, d from the synthetic example) an initial depth slice increment of 50 m for the residual depth error pick tracking through the NRM displacement field was depth adjusted based on minimum threshold semblance values by scanning along offsets of the CIP gather.

One attribute presented for the tomography is the reflector dip field

Depth tomography example A from Fig. 5, with CDP ranging from
46 700 to 50 800.

Each iteration loop in the tomographic processing flow (Fig. 1) included
approx. 11 000 depth error branches, each branch with 30 picks, and six
sequentially applied scale-length smoothings

Successive smoothing scale length reduction applied for each iteration of the depth tomography.

In the data examples, we show three different structural settings with results of the velocity model, the corresponding PSDM sections, and the NRM displacement field, as well as the spatial coherence field together with the reflector dip field of the final migrated section. To document the change in the CIP-gather domain in detail, we additionally compare selected subareas of initial and final CIP gathers, the calculated NRM displacement fields, and the residual depth error picks, as well as on overlay display with the CIP gather and the depth error picks.

The first field data example, “Example A”, at the northern end of the profile (Fig. 7), is a shallow sediment basin with layered interfaces and continuous reflectivity and represents an optimal site to obtain a reliable velocity model in a 2-D multi-channel seismic survey. A CIP-gather increment of 32 (200 m) was analysed along the profile with the NRM method. In total, five iterations of tomography loops (Fig. 1) were applied to this data example. An enlarged view of the initial velocity model ranging from CDP 46 700 to 50 800 is displayed in Fig. 7a. The resulting initial Kirchhoff pre-stack depth migration (Fig. 7c) retrieves a coherent image of the shallow sedimentary portion, while the energy in the deeper part close to the basement is not very well collapsed, resulting in a series of over-migrated events. The displayed reflector dip field (Fig. 7e) and coherency field (Fig. 7f) are extracted from the final migration section.

The reflector dip is used for the ray propagation direction during the
tomography, and the coherency field is used as an additional weighting of
RMO depth error picks in spatially coherent subsurface areas. The two
attribute fields were recalculated for each iteration of the tomography
loops (Fig. 1). After five iterations of the NRM-based depth tomography and
Kirchhoff PSDM, the reflection energy is much better collapsed and shows
more focussed and continuous signals, especially in the deeper part between
5.2–5.6 km (Fig. 7d). Furthermore, the final velocity model (Fig. 7b)
displays lateral velocity variations that mimic the form of the base of the
sediment basin. This is well demonstrated by the 3000 m s

Moving into the pre-stack CIP domain, a series of CIP gathers ranging from CDP 49 000 to 50 600 (same profile range as in Fig. 7) are selected and displayed in Fig. 8a with an increment of 32 (200 m). A dip filter is applied to the gathers to eliminate the extreme dipping events and migration noise. The NRM field in Fig. 8c shows the initial relative displacement values for each data sample. The information below the basement is muted by a digitized basement horizon. The distinct block of blue colour within the red rectangle in Fig. 8c, at a depth of 5.0 to 5.8 km, illustrates a general velocity overestimation in the overlying sediment. The RMO depth error picks calculated from the NRM displacement field, as a data-driven automatic picking method without any assumption of its curvature, are the main input information for the tomography (Fig. 8e). Figure 8b, d, and f show the final flattened CIP gather, NRM displacement field, and RMO depth error picks, respectively.

NRM velocity updating of Fig. 7 in CIP domain.

Compared to the initial data, the updated events in the CIP gather become optimally flattened. The depth of the basement shifts upwards by 0.2 km due to the velocity reduction of the final model. In the final NRM field (Fig. 8d), the velocity overestimation error in the region of the red rectangle is substantially reduced. However, some residual move-out undulations from the initial to the final stage remain, as seen in detail in Fig. 8g and h from the CIP gathers overlain with the RMO depth error curves. Ideally, the final NRM displacement field in Fig. 8d should have no NRM depth shift anymore, and all depth error picks should align horizontally. This cannot always be achieved, as the tomography finds only the solution that minimizes the depth error with respect to the smallest scale lengths (Table 3).

In the following, the PSDM profile (location marked by the yellow line in Fig. 5) with the final velocity model overlain in Fig. 9 will be further analysed.

Depth migration stack section of five iterations depth
tomography with final velocity model overlain. The location of the profile
is illustrated in Fig. 5 as a yellow line. Rectangular boxes are discussed
in the section on field data examples from the accretionary wedge.

Two data examples (Fig. 5, examples B and C, marked in red) in the blue
rectangles within the accretionary wedge in Fig. 9 show distinct levels of
complexity. The selected upper-slope area is characterized by strongly
folded continuous reflector sequences, whereas the lower-slope area contains
only short reflector segments with varying dips. The lack of coherent
reflective signals in this highly deformed accretionary prism leads to a
severe difficulty in accurately evaluating the residual move-out in the CIP
gathers, especially if a constant spatial analysis increment (e.g. 500 CDP

Our second field data example focuses on a sequence of thick sediment tilted by compressive deformation in the region marked by the blue rectangle example B in Fig. 9b. Figure 10 provides a detailed image of the PSDM section and velocity model from the initial and final stages. The final velocity (Fig. 10b) is significantly reduced compared to the initial velocity model (Fig. 10a) in the shallow part and significantly increased compared to the initial model at depths of 5.2–6.2 km. The reflector sequences of the anticline structure between CDP 29 300 and 29 500, from 4.0–4.4 km depth, are more continuous in the final image (Fig. 10d) than in the initial image (Fig. 10c), especially at the top of the anticline. The dip of the folded reflector sequence between CDP 29 800 and 30 100, above 4.8 km, is more continuous in the final image (Fig. 10d), since the residual depth error is better flattened (Fig. 11g and h), and the reflector dip in the PSDM section increases steadily with increasing distance from the apex of the fold (Fig. 10d). By contrast, the initial image in this same region (Fig. 10c) shows an abrupt change in the dip near the apex of the fold.

Depth tomography example B in Figs. 5 and 9b, with
CDP ranging from 29 300 to 30 500.

NRM velocity update of Fig. 10 in CIP domain.

Comparing the initial and final CIP gathers in Fig. 11a and b inside the red rectangle, strong downward-dipping reflections indicate the requirement to reduce the initial velocity significantly. The NRM displacement field in Fig. 11c provides a more quantitative view of this requirement, seen by the strong blue colour with more than 2 m depth error per trace distance. The RMO picks calculated in Fig. 11e and overlain on the seismic image (Fig. 11g) follow the seismic down-dipping reflection trend quite accurately. After the tomography, the final NRM displacement is significantly reduced (Fig. 11d and f), the residual calculated depth error in the red box (Fig. 11h) is reduced, and the reflectors are in better horizontal alignment.

To the left of the red box between CDP 29 600 and 29 800, above 4.4 km depth,
the tomography could only partially remove the depth error (compare Fig. 11c
and d). The reflections in this region could only be aligned with
velocities far below the water velocity, indicating that side echoes or
cross-dipping structures in this region prevent a reliable subsurface
velocity determination. To avoid such unrealistic velocity updates during
the tomography, a minimum velocity of 1750 m s

In the lower-slope region (Fig. 9a, example C), sediment layers are
segmented and folded as a result of the regional compressive deformation
exerted by the subduction accretion processes. The initial pre-stack depth
migration example is shown in Fig. 12c. After the tomography, the final
velocity increased by 500 m s

Depth tomography example C in Figs. 5 and 9a, with CDP
ranging from 27 200 to 28 600.

In the initial CIP gathers displayed in Fig. 13a, the reflector distribution appears largely uncorrelated, and no clear trends are visible, particularly within the red box. In the initial NRM displacement field (Fig. 13c), there is a general positive depth error character that dominates the gathers, as indicated by the red colour, especially within the red rectangle and in the initial residual depth error (Fig. 13e).

NRM velocity updating of Fig. 12 in CIP domain.

By increasing the velocities based on the tomography result, this
misalignment is reduced both in the final NRM displacement field (Fig. 13d)
and in the final residual depth error illustrated by the generally more
horizontal alignment of the events (Fig. 13f). In the enlarged view of Fig. 13g and h, the general positive dip trend has been mostly removed.
However, local reflector misalignment is still observed, as documented by
the local blue colour in the NRM displacement of downward-dipping events
(Fig. 13d). Even after the tomography, the two local anomalies of four
neighbouring CIP gathers between CDP 28 200 and 28 400, at 5 and 5.6 km
depth, were not correctly aligned. These local anomalies have a lateral
dimension of

The final depth image with the velocity model (Fig. 9) and the final subsurface velocity model (Fig. 14b) compared to the smoothed initial velocity (Fig. 14a) shows local velocity changes in the upper 3 km below the seafloor. To emphasize the differences, the percentage of change is calculated in Fig. 14c.

Close to the trench axis (CDP 25 500–26 000), a velocity reduction of more
than 10 % from 2100 to 1800 m s

On the lower slope (CDP 27 000–29 000) an increase in the velocity of more
than 10 % compared to the initial velocity is observed and is comparable
to the original OBS velocity. A thin pelagic layer of slope sediment with a
maximum thickness of 100 m with velocities of 1750 m s

In between the dipping reflectivity patches, shallow deformed layered
sediment structures with reduced velocities of 1900 m s

On the upper slope (CDP 29 000–32 400) the shallow reflector continuity from the lower slope increases in thickness from 500 up to 2000 m and forms continuous landward-dipping structures (Figs. 9b, 10d). The folded anticline structures (CDP 29 000–29 600) at a depth of 4 to 6 km and a sequence of thrust ridges with intervening piggyback basin (CDP 30 500–31 100, depth 3.5 to 4.5 km), as well as the landward increasing steepening of the thrust sheets, document the long-lasting compressional character of this prism.

In our final PSDM section (Fig. 9), the plate interface of the subduction zone is continuously imaged from profile kilometre 166 to kilometre 202 at a depth between 8 to 12 km. Due to the limited streamer length (3000 m) the plate interface in the deeper region is only slightly repositioned, but we did not observe a significant improvement of the reflection amplitude between the initial PSDM and the final PSDM sections. However, a different amplitude versus offset (AVO) distribution in the CIP gather along deeper reflections may be expected due to a change of the ray path bending from velocity updates in the shallow subseafloor. By using longer streamer MCS surveys, implementation of NRM grid-based reflection tomography would benefit the quantification of the plate interface reflection amplitude. This holds true especially for the AVO distribution, angle-dependent reflection coefficients, fluid budget, and its migration paths, which are related to the earthquake phenomena along the megathrust (e.g. Bangs et al., 2015; Sallarès and Ranero, 2019) and may be investigated in future studies.

In this study, we used a multi-scale length strategy for each iteration (Table 3) because a general background model existed from a wide-angle reflection and refraction tomography (Planert et al., 2010). Due to the limited streamer length, velocity updates deeper than 3 km were not expected, and the long scale-length velocity variation by the OBS model was assumed to be well resolved. Our main target in this study was the shallow subseafloor structure up to 3 km depth, which consists of spatially varying reflector size elements and varying dips. As an example, we discuss the data from the upper slope in Figs. 10 and 11 in more detail. The result of the velocity updates and the reflector alignment for each of the five iterations are shown in Fig. 15a–e. The total velocity update is the summation of the individual iteration's velocity update (Fig. 15f). By adding this velocity to the initial velocity will in general be the final velocity model.

After the first iteration (Fig. 15a) a strong velocity decrease of more than
200 m s

The smallest scale-length smoothing defined for the tomography will determine the highest possible resolution of the velocity update. To have enough redundancy at the smallest scale length, the CIP distance increment (100 m) and depth error increment (50 m) of the depth error branches were chosen so that at least seven neighbour CIP-gather and three depth error picked branches were considered. Any velocity anomalies below this scale length will not be detected. This limitation of detectable velocity anomaly can also be seen in Fig. 13d at two locations indicated by the blue colour of negative depth errors.

Due to the dense depth error information which is needed for the tomography to stabilize the linear equations (Eq. 13), manual picking is not recommended, especially if several iterations are needed. In this example of the accretionary wedge in Fig. 9 for one single iteration, 11 000 residual move-out branches were automatically picked, where each branch consists of approx. 30 individual depth picks. This number is equivalent to the number of linear equations which must be solved (Eq. 12) during the tomography.

To quantify the model uncertainties and mainly to reduce the migration computation time, new inversion strategies were developed by incorporating a Monte Carlo approach (e.g. Martin and Bell, 2019) and should be incorporated in the future. Instead of getting one final model result, multiple model results were generated based on the sensitivity and resolution of the input data for the migration. To estimate the sensitivity and resolution, which is mainly determined by the acquisition parameters and the subsurface complexity, a checkerboard test with different wavelengths and magnitudes of perturbation added to an initial velocity model will be inverted by a test tomography application. The difference to the initial model, namely the residual errors, can be used to constrain threshold values for model perturbations. The minimum spatial wavelengths and the maximum amplitude perturbation must be fulfilled for any velocity perturbation created randomly for a Monte Carlo simulation, but this analysis will not avoid the detection of side echo velocity anomalies.

To analyse model perturbations independently of the migration velocity, CIP-gather depth errors are de-migrated with their migration velocity. In the model domain, random perturbed populations of velocity input functions are generated, inverted, and updated to the input velocity model to create a possible velocity model. All these populations of velocity models of the inversions can be statistically analysed, averaged, and used for the next iteration of a migration. By analysing the cumulative depth error of the CIP gathers after the migration iterations, convergence to a predefined obtained minimum depth error can be used to stop the inversion process automatically (Martin and Bell, 2019).

The wave propagation, namely direction and speed, is strongly influenced by
the rock type and is generally depth and azimuth dependent. A fluid-filled
orientation of fractures or microcracks can cause anisotropy as well as a
preferred orientation of minerals in the deeper crust. There exist several
classes of symmetry for anisotropy. But for imaging and inversion often a
simple transverse isotropic type with one axis of symmetry is assumed. The
symmetry axis can be vertical (VTI), tilted (TTI), or horizontal (HTI). For a
weakly anisotropic medium of acoustic waves, the dimensionless Thomsen
parameters

Complementary datasets like in this study of near-vertical reflections and wide-angle reflection and refractions with more horizontally propagating events offer one possibility to estimate the anisotropic parameters in the illuminated subsurface areas of both datasets. Classical modelling methods are nowadays replaced by inversion strategies due to the constant growth of observation density and increasing computational power. Several developments for weak anisotropy are published, e.g. 3-D joint refraction and reflection tomography (Meléndez et al., 2019) or a ray-based gridded tomography for tilted TI media based on depth alignment of CIP gather (Wang and Tsvankin, 2011).

The ray-based gridded tomography (Eqs. 12–15) together with the
non-hyperbolic NRM event tracking and picking can also be used to invert for
the anisotropic parameters, e.g.

In the Java trench dataset, where near-vertical and wide-angle and refracted OBS data both exist, a combined analysis is limited to the move-out sensitivity by the streamer length 3–4 km below the seafloor. Additionally, both profiles do not completely coincide especially at the lower slope. The OBS model does not show significant velocity variations along the slope, especially not in the gravitationally driven slump area close to the trench axis. Instead, only a thin low-velocity layer with constant thickness is observed along the accretionary wedge (Fig. 6a). The data gap of OBS positions in the trench axis and the lack of local sediment basin incorporated into the initial wide-angle tomography model (Planert et al., 2010) have reduced the model reliability for further anisotropic analysis in the shallow illuminated area of both datasets.

The presented case study shows that CIP depth error estimations by depth warping in combination with a ray-based reflection tomography can improve depth-migrated images from MCS data. The non-rigid warping method provides reliable displacement fields for non-hyperbolic CIP depth errors. A semblance-based event tracking through the displacement field is limited by interfering reflected events. Due to the purely data-driven method of densely sampled depth error information (horizontal distance 100 m, vertical distance 50 m) more detailed spatial information for velocity corrections is available. In combination with a grid-based tomography, where depth errors are compensated for by velocity changes, the inversion from long to short lengths iteratively reduces the depth errors and improves the migration image. We suggest that further developments by integrating statistical analysis of the velocity updates (e.g. the Monte Carlo approach) and extending the tomography for anisotropic parameters will provide new analysis tools for the subsurface image within the limits of ray-based methods.

Codes used to implement the depth-variant displacement correction and residual move-out (RMO) auto-tracking on the synthetic seismic section by using the NRM method are available at

The raw and final results are available upon reasonable request.

YX and DK performed the computations and are responsible for the majority of the processing. HK helped to strengthen the overall scope and added to interpretational aspects and the discussion of the presented results. MS made the data available and was responsible for the navigation and geometry processing. YX wrote the article, and all authors contributed equally to the proofreading and final preparation of the paper.

The contact author has declared that neither they nor their co-authors have any competing interests.

Publisher’s note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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This paper was edited by Charlotte Krawczyk and reviewed by Nathan Bangs and César R. Ranero.