Reflections in our seismic data induce serious nonlinear behavior in the objective function of full waveform inversion (FWI). Thus, without a good initial velocity model, that can produce the reflections within a cycle of the frequency used in the inversion, convergence to the solution becomes hard. Such velocity models are usually extracted from migration velocity analysis or traveltime tomography, among other means, that are not guaranteed to adhere to the FWI requirements. As such, we promote an objective function based on the misfit in the instantaneous traveltime between the observed and modeled data. This phase based attribute of the wavefield, along with its phase unwrapping features, provide a frequency dependent traveltime function. With strong damping of the of the synthetic, potentially low frequency, data, this attribute admits first arrival traveltime that could be compared with picked ones from the observed data, like in wave equation tomography. As we relax the damping on the synthetic and observed data, the objective function measures the misfit in the phase, however unwrapped in an FWI type inversion. It, thus, provides a single objective function and a natural transition from traveltime tomography to full waveform inversion. A Marmousi example demonstrates the effectiveness of the approach.


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