In inhomogeneous isotropic regions, S waves can be modeled using the ray method for isotropic media. In inhomogeneous strongly anisotropic regions, the independently propagating qS1 and qS2 waves can similarly be modeled using the ray method for anisotropic media. The latter method does not work properly in inhomogeneous weakly anisotropic regions, however, where the split qS waves couple. The zeroth-order approximation of the quasi-isotropic (QI) approach was designed for just such inhomogeneous weakly anisotropic media, for which neither the ray method for isotropic nor anisotropic media applies.
We test the ranges of validity of these three methods using two simple synthetic models. Our results show that the QI approach more than spans the gap between the ray methods: it can be used in isotropic regions (where it reduces to the ray method for isotropic media), in regions of weak anisotropy (where the ray method for anisotropic media does not work properly), and even in regions of moderately strong anisotropy (in which the qS waves decouple and thus could be modeled using the ray method for anisotropic media). A modeling program that switches between these three methods as necessary should be valid for arbitrary-strength anisotropy.
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