The inverse problem of refraction travel times, part I: Types of Geophysical Nonuniqueness through Minimization

Pure and Applied Geophysics

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DOI: 10.1007/s00024-004-2615-1



In a set of two papers we study the inverse problem of refraction travel times. The purpose of this work is to use the study as a basis for development of more sophisticated methods for finding more reliable solutions to the inverse problem of refraction travel times, which is known to be nonunique. The first paper, "Types of Geophysical Nonuniqueness through Minimization," emphasizes the existence of different forms of nonuniqueness in the realm of inverse geophysical problems. Each type of nonuniqueness requires a different type and amount of a priori information to acquire a reliable solution. Based on such coupling, a nonuniqueness classification is designed. Therefore, since most inverse geophysical problems are nonunique, each inverse problem must be studied to define what type of nonuniqueness it belongs to and thus determine what type of a priori information is necessary to find a realistic solution. The second paper, "Quantifying Refraction Nonuniqueness Using a Three-layer Model," serves as an example of such an approach. However, its main purpose is to provide a better understanding of the inverse refraction problem by studying the type of nonuniqueness it possesses. An approach for obtaining a realistic solution to the inverse refraction problem is planned to be offered in a third paper that is in preparation. The main goal of this paper is to redefine the existing generalized notion of nonuniqueness and a priori information by offering a classified, discriminate structure. Nonuniqueness is often encountered when trying to solve inverse problems. However, possible nonuniqueness diversity is typically neglected and nonuniqueness is regarded as a whole, as an unpleasant "black box" and is approached in the same manner by applying smoothing constraints, damping constraints with respect to the solution increment and, rarely, damping constraints with respect to some sparse reference information about the true parameters. In practice, when solving geophysical problems different types of nonuniqueness exist, and thus there are different ways to solve the problems. Nonuniqueness is usually regarded as due to data error, assuming the true geology is acceptably approximated by simple mathematical models. Compounding the nonlinear problems, geophysical applications routinely exhibit exact-data nonuniqueness even for models with very few parameters adding to the nonuniqueness due to data error. While nonuniqueness variations have been defined earlier, they have not been linked to specific use of a priori information necessary to resolve each case. Four types of nonuniqueness, typical for minimization problems are defined with the corresponding methods for inclusion of a priori information to find a realistic solution without resorting to a non-discriminative approach. The above-developed stand-alone classification is expected to be helpful when solving any geophysical inverse problems. ?? Birkha??user Verlag, Basel, 2005.

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The inverse problem of refraction travel times, part I: Types of Geophysical Nonuniqueness through Minimization
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Pure and Applied Geophysics
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