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At seismic discontinuities in the crust and mantle, part of the compressional wave energy converts to shear wave, and vice versa. These converted waves have been widely used in receiver function (RF) studies to image discontinuity structures in the Earth. While generally successful, the conventional RF method has its limitations and is suited mostly to flat or gently dipping structures. Among the efforts to overcome the limitations of the conventional RF method is the development of the wave‐theory‐based, passive‐source reverse‐time migration (PS‐RTM) for imaging complex seismic discontinuities and scatters. To date, PS‐RTM has been implemented only in 2D in the Cartesian coordinate for local problems and thus has limited applicability. In this paper, we introduce a 3D PS‐RTM approach in the spherical coordinate, which is better suited for regional and global problems. New computational procedures are developed to reduce artifacts and enhance migrated images, including back‐propagating the main arrival and the coda containing the converted waves separately, using a modified Helmholtz decomposition operator to separate the P and S modes in the back‐propagated wavefields, and applying an imaging condition that maintains a consistent polarity for a given velocity contrast. Our new approach allows us to use migration velocity models with realistic velocity discontinuities, improving accuracy of the migrated images. We present several synthetic experiments to demonstrate the method, using regional and teleseismic sources. The results show that both regional and teleseismic sources can illuminate complex structures and this method is well suited for imaging dipping interfaces and sharp lateral changes in discontinuity structures.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.