Reverse-Time Prestack Depth Migration of GPR Data from Topography for Amplitude Reconstruction in Complex Environments

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With increased computational power, reverse-time prestack depth migration (RT-PSDM) has become a preferred imaging tool in seismic exploration, yet its use has remained relatively limited in ground-penetrating radar (GPR) applications. Complex topography alters the wavefield kinematics making for a challenging imaging problem. Model simulations show that topographic variation can substantially distort reflection amplitudes due to irregular wavefield spreading, attenuation anomalies due to irregular path lengths, and focusing and defocusing effects at the surface. The effects are magnified when the topographic variations are on the same order as the depth of investigation––a situation that is often encountered in GPR investigations. Here, I use a full wave-equation RT-PSDM algorithm to image GPR data in the presence of large topographic variability relative to the depth of investigation. The source and receiver wavefields are propagated directly from the topographic surface and this approach inherently corrects for irregular kinematics, spreading and attenuation. The results show that when GPR data are acquired in areas of extreme topography, RT-PSDM can accurately reconstruct reflector geometry as well as reflection amplitude.