Characterizing near-surface structures at the Ostia archaeological site based on instantaneous-phase coherency inversion

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Traditional least-squares full-waveform inversion (FWI) suffers from severe local minima problems in case of the presence of strongly dispersive surface waves. Additionally, recorded wavefields are often characterized by amplitude errors due to varying source coupling and incorrect 3D-to-2D geometrical-spreading correction. Thus, least-squares FWI is considered less than suitable for near-surface applications. In this paper, we introduce an amplitude-unbiased coherency measure as a misfit function that can be incorporated into FWI. Such coherency was earlier used in phase-weighted stacking (PWS) to enhance weak but coherent signals. The benefit of this amplitude-unbiased misfit function is that it can extract information uniformly for all seismic signals (surface waves, reflections, and scattered waves). Using the adjoint-state method, we show how to calculate the gradient of this new misfit function. We validate the robustness of the new approach using checkerboard tests and synthetic data contaminated by random noise. We then apply the new FWI approach to a field dataset acquired at an archaeological site located in Ostia, Italy. The goal of this survey was to map the unexcavated archaeological remains with high-resolution. We identify a known tumulus in the FWI results. The instantaneous-phase coherency FWI results also establish that the shallow subsurface under the survey lines is quite heterogeneous. The instantaneous-phase coherency FWI of near-surface data can be a promising tool to image shallow small-scale objects buried under shallow soil covers, as found at archaeological sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-50
Number of pages50
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • archaeology
  • coherency
  • Full-waveform inversion
  • near surface
  • Rayleigh wave


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