The finite-difference method is widely used for time-domain modelling of the wave equation because of its ease of implementation of high-order spatial discretization schemes, parallelization and computational efficiency. However, finite elements on tetrahedral meshes are more accurate in complex geometries near sharp interfaces. We compared the fourth-order finite-difference method to fourth-order continuous mass-lumped finite elements in terms of accuracy and computational cost. The results show that for simple models like a cube with constant density and velocity, the finite-difference method outperforms the finite-element method by at least an order of magnitude. For a model with interior complexity and topography, however, the finite elements are about two orders of magnitude faster than finite differences.


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