Direct traveltime inversion of VSP data for elliptical anisotropy in layered media

R. James Brown, Michael P. Lamoureux, Michael A. Slawinski, Raphaël A. Slawinski

This paper presents an exact method for inversion of VSP data for anisotropic parameters that uses traveltimes directly, rather than phase slownesses computed from traveltime differences. There is a tradeoff in the present traveltime-based method compared with the slowness-based method. In our method we have to assume some function representing the vertical velocity variation, something that is not necessary in the phase-slowness method. There is, however, a higher numerical accuracy in the direct traveltime method. This is due partly to our using observed traveltimes directly in the computations rather than taking differences between values of comparable size, which greatly magnifies the relative errors. Error analysis shows that there also are other intrinsic reasons why our technique has less error. A numerical example representing a typical VSP yielded errors from the phase-slowness method (requiring two sources and two receivers) that were about 18 times larger than for a single determination by the direct traveltime method. Furthermore, in cases where the VSP has been acquired with a single source offset, e.g., for some offshore wells, the traveltime method will yield results, whereas the slowness method will not.