Ray tomography: Errors and error functions

Juan Carlos Santamarina*, A. C. Reed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Tomography is the inversion of boundary projections to reconstruct the internal characteristics of the medium between the source and detector boreholes. Tomography is used to image the structure of geological formations and localized inhomogenieties. This imaging technique may be applied to either seismic or electromagnetic data, typically recorded as transmission measurements between two or more boreholes. Algebraic algorithms are error-driven solutions where the goal is to minimize the error between measured and predicted projections. The purpose of this study is to assess the effect of the ray propagation model, the measurement errors, and the error functions on the resolving ability of algebraic algorithms. The problem under consideration is the identification of a two-dimensional circular anomaly surveyed using crosshole measurements. The results show that: (1) convergence to the position of the circular anomaly in depth between vertical boreholes is significantly better than for convergence in the horizontal direction; (2) error surfaces may not be convex, even in the absence of measurement and model errors; (3) the distribution of information content significantly affects the convexity of averaging error functions; (4) measurement noise and model inaccuracy manifest in increased residuals and in reduced convergence gradients near optimum convergence; (5) the maximum ray error function increases convergence gradients compared with the average error function, and is unaffected by the distribution of information content; however, it has higher probability of local minima. Therefore, inversions based on the minimization of the maximum ray error may be advantageous in crosshole tomography but it requires smooth projections. These results are applicable to both electromagnetic and seismic data for wavelengths significantly smaller than the size of anomalies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-355
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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