Zhang, X., Chen, P. & Pullammanappallil, S. Earthq Sci (2013) 26: 331. doi:10.1007/s11589-013-0032-1
Recent advances in commodity high-performance computing technology have dramatically reduced the computational cost for solving the seismic wave equation in complex earth structure models. As a consequence, wave-equation-based seismic tomography techniques are being actively developed and gradually adopted in routine subsurface seismic imaging practices. Wave-equation travel-time tomography is a seismic tomography technique that inverts cross-correlation travel-time misfits using full-wave Fréchet kernels computed by solving the wave equation. This technique can be implemented very efficiently using the adjoint method, in which the misfits are back-propagated from the receivers (i.e., seismometers) to produce the adjoint wave-field and the interaction between the adjoint wave-field and the forward wave-field from the seismic source gives the gradient of the objective function. Once the gradient is available, a gradient-based optimization algorithm can then be adopted to produce an optimal earth structure model that minimizes the objective function. This methodology is conceptually straightforward, but its implementation in practical situations is highly complex, error-prone and computationally demanding. In this study, we demonstrate the feasibility of automating wave-equation travel-time tomography based on the adjoint method using Kepler, an open-source software package for designing, managing and executing scientific workflows. The workflow technology allows us to abstract away much of the complexity involved in the implementation in a manner that is both robust and scalable. Our automated adjoint wave-equation travel-time tomography package has been successfully applied on a real active-source seismic dataset.