Traveltime tomography has long served as a stable and efficient tool for velocity estimation, especially for the near surface. It, however, suffers from some of limitations associated with ray tracing and high-frequency traveltime in velocity inversion zones and ray shadow regions. We develop a tomographic approach based on traveltime solutions obtained by tracking the phase (instantaneous traveltime) of the wavefield solution of the Helmholtz wave equation. Since the instantaneous-traveltime does not suffer from phase wrapping, the inversion algorithm using the instantaneous-traveltime has the potential to generate robust inversion results. With a high damping factor, the instantaneous-traveltime inversion provides refraction tomography similar results, but from a single frequency. Despite the Helmholtz-based solver implementation, the tomographic inversion handles irrgular topography. The numerical examples show that our inversion algorithm generates a convergent smooth velocity model, which looks very much like a tomographic result. Next, we plan to apply the instantaneous-traveltime inversion algorithm to real seismic data acquired from the near surface with irregular topography.


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