Improving Crosshole Radar Velocity Tomograms: A New Approach to Incorporating High-Angle Traveltime Data

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To obtain the highest-resolution ray-based tomographic images from crosshole ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data, wide angular ray coverage of the region between the two boreholes is required. Unfortunately, at borehole spacings on the order of a few meters, high-angle traveltime data (i.e., traveltime data corresponding to transmitter-receiver angles greater than approximately 50° from the horizontal) are notoriously difficult to incorporate into crosshole GPR inversions. This is because (1) low signal-to-noise ratios make the accurate picking of first-arrival times at high angles extremely difficult, and (2) significant tomographic artifacts commonly appear when high- and low-angle ray data are inverted together. We address and overcome these two issues for a crosshole GPR data example collected at the Boise Hydrogeophysical Research Site (BHRS). To estimate first-arrival times on noisy, high-angle gathers, we develop a robust and automatic picking strategy based on crosscorrelations, where reference waveforms are determined from the data through the stacking of common-ray-angle gathers. To overcome incompatibility issues between high- and low-angle data, we modify the standard tomographic inversion strategy to estimate, in addition to subsurface velocities, parameters that describe a traveltime 'correction curve' as a function of angle. Application of our modified inversion strategy, to both synthetic data and the BHRS data set, shows that it allows the successful incorporation of all available traveltime data to obtain significantly improved subsurface velocity images.