The development of efficient numerical time-domain modeling methods for geophysical wave propagation

Date of Completion

January 2007






This Ph.D. dissertation focuses on the numerical simulation of geophysical wave propagation in the time domain including elastic waves in solid media, the acoustic waves in fluid media, and the electromagnetic waves in dielectric media. This thesis shows that a linear system model can describe accurately the physical processes of those geophysical waves' propagation and can be used as a sound basis for modeling geophysical wave propagation phenomena. The generalized stability condition for numerical modeling of wave propagation is therefore discussed in the context of linear system theory. ^ The efficiency of a series of different numerical algorithms in the time-domain for modeling geophysical wave propagation are discussed and compared. These algorithms include the finite-difference time-domain method, pseudospectral time domain method, alternating directional implicit (ADI) finite-difference time domain method. The advantages and disadvantages of these numerical methods are discussed and the specific stability condition for each modeling scheme is carefully derived in the context of the linear system theory. ^ Based on the review and discussion of these existing approaches, the split step, ADI pseudospectral time domain (SS-ADI-PSTD) method is developed and tested for several cases. Moreover, the state-of-the-art stretched-coordinate perfect matched layer (SCPML) has also been implemented in SS-ADI-PSTD algorithm as the absorbing boundary condition for truncating the computational domain and absorbing the artificial reflection from the domain boundaries. ^ After algorithmic development, a few case studies serve as the real-world examples to verify the capacities of the numerical algorithms and understand the capabilities and limitations of geophysical methods for detection of subsurface contamination. The first case is a study using ground penetrating radar (GPR) amplitude variation with offset (AVO) for subsurface non-aqueous-liquid (NAPL) contamination. The numerical AVO study reveals that the normalized residual polarization (NRP) variation with offset does not respond to subsurface NAPL existence when the offset is close to or larger than its critical value (which corresponds to critical incident angle) because the air and head waves dominate the recorded wave field and severely interfere with reflected waves in the TEz wave field. Thus it can be concluded that the NRP AVO/GPR method is invalid when source-receiver angle offset is close to or greater than its critical value due to incomplete and severely distorted reflection information. In other words, AVO is not a promising technique for detection of the subsurface NAPL, as claimed by some researchers. In addition, the robustness of the newly developed numerical algorithms is also verified by the AVO study for randomly-arranged layered media. Meanwhile, this case study also demonstrates again that the full-wave numerical modeling algorithms are superior to ray tracing method. ^ The second case study focuses on the effect of the existence of a near-surface fault on the vertically incident P- and S- plane waves. The modeling results show that both P-wave vertical incidence and S-wave vertical incidence cases are qualified fault indicators. For the plane S-wave vertical incidence case, the horizontal location of the upper tip of the fault (the footwall side) can be identified without much effort, because all the recorded parameters on the surface including the maximum velocities and the maximum accelerations, and even their ratios H/V, have shown dramatic changes when crossing the upper tip of the fault. The centers of the transition zone of the all the curves of parameters are almost directly above the fault tip (roughly the horizontal center of the model). ^ Compared with the case of the vertically incident P-wave source, it has been found that the S-wave vertical source is a better indicator for fault location, because the horizontal location of the tip of that fault cannot be clearly identified with the ratio of the horizontal to vertical velocity for the P-wave incident case. ^