The finite difference (FD) method is among the most popular methods for modelling seismic wave propagation. Although the method has enjoyed huge success for its ability to produce full wavefield seismograms in complex models, it also has some drawbacks compared to other modelling methods. In particular, a limitation which is of critical importance for many modelling applications is the perceived inability of FD methods to naturally output partial wavefield constituents such as up- and downgoing and P- and S-waves. We show how such wavefield constituents can naturally be isolated in FD computed synthetics with very high numerical accuracy (in principle to machine precision) by means of a simple algorithm. The description focuses on up/down separation of data generated using an isotropic elastic finite difference modelling method. The generality of the methodology makes it applicable to other types of wave propagation problems such as electromagnetic wave propagation for instance.


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