Yaoguo Li

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Yaoguo Li
Yaoguo Li headshot 2017.png
Latest company Colorado School of Mines
Membership Honorary Member
BSc Applied Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university Wuhan College of Geology, China
PhD university University of British Columbia, Canada

Yaoguo Li is an Associate Professor of the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School, where he serves as Director of the Center for Gravity, Electrical and Magnetic studies.[1]

SEG Honorary Membership 2017

Yaoguo Li’s lengthy record of contributions and service to the profession of geophysics and to SEG warrant the award of Honorary Membership. Li has a long and distinguished record of education, technical contributions, and service to SEG. Li has both a passion and talent for education and has been selected as Outstanding Teacher for three different years in the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines. He is one of the world ’s leading experts on inversion of potential-field and electrical data. He has authored or coauthored 74 peer-reviewed papers, one book, and two book chapters. Several of his papers are recognized as seminal works. For his technical contributions, he was awarded the 1999 Gerald W. Hohmann Award for Excellence in Applied Electrical Geophysics Methods. Many of the codes and algorithms he developed have become industry standard, and both he and his students have been recognized with best paper awards. His record of service to SEG includes serving many years as an associate editor for Geophysics; working as a primary organizer for the first two well-attended and highly successful gravity, magnetic, and electromagnetic SEG workshops in China; and serving as a SEAM board member for three years

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership [2]

Contributed by Misac Nabighian

Yaoguo Li was born in Delingha, China, and he attended the Wuhan College of Geology where in 1983 he obtained a BS in applied geophysics. In 1992 he received a PhD in geophysics from the University of British Columbia (UBC) for his work on 3D inversion of DC resistivity data. Upon graduation he continued working as a postdoctoral fellow and then research associate at the UBC-Geophysical Inversion Facility (UBC-GIF) until 1999 when Yaoguo joined the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines, where he is currently a professor.

Yaoguo’s main interest has always been inverse theory and its use in quantitative interpretation of geophysical data. While at UBC-GIF, he carried out pioneering work on the inversion of geophysical data sets commonly used in mineral exploration. Working with Doug Oldenburg, he published a series of seminal papers on 2D and 3D inversions of induced polarization, and also gravity and magnetic data. Based on these works, he developed or codeveloped inversion software packages including GRAV3D, MAG3D, DCIP2D, and DCIP3D, which are still widely used in industry and academia and contributed significantly to the earlier success of UBC-GIF. He was also the first to apply wavelet compression to geophysical inversions thus speeding up computations and increasing the size of solvable problems, which played a crucial role in large-scale 3D inversions.

Upon joining the Colorado School of Mines, Yaoguo in 1999 founded the Gravity and Magnetics Research Consortium to continue industry-sponsored research on processing and interpretation of gravity and magnetic data for petroleum exploration. Yaoguo later founded the Center for Gravity, Electrical, and Magnetic Studies to expand the group’s research to a wider scope, covering gravity gradiometry, time-lapse gravity, borehole gravity, magnetic data with remanence, electromagnetics, and nuclear magnetic resonance with applications ranging from reservoir characterization to mineral exploration and to unexploded ordnance cleanup. Yaoguo has coauthored many excellent papers in these areas, notable among which are a series on the processing and inversion of gravity gradiometry data, a sequence on time-lapse gravity data, and a series on the inversion of magnetic data affected by strong remanent magnetization. These research efforts again resulted in many processing and inversion software packages for practical applications.

During this time, he also wrote with Misac Nabighian a chapter in Treatise of Geophysics on Magnetic methods of exploration — Principles and algorithms, and with Rich Krahenbuhl a book titled Gravity and Magnetic Methods in Mineral and Oil & Gas Exploration and Production, published by EAGE. More recently, he and his students have focused on the integrated interpretation of multiple geophysical data sets and joint inversion of geophysical and petrophysical data to differentiate and characterize geology. This led to a series of publications on geology differentiation using independent inversions and the development of joint inversion methods using guided fuzzy c-means clustering.

Yaoguo has been an associate editor of Geophysics since 2011, and from 2011 to 2014 he served on the Board of Directors for the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM). Four papers he coauthored received Honorable Mention for Best Paper in Geophysics. He is a co-recipient of the G. W. Hohmann Award and presently is the 11th EAGE Educational Tour instructor. His students have received two Best Student Paper Awards and three Awards of Merit at various SEG Annual Meetings and also the Laric Hawkins Award from ASEG.

It has been my pleasure and distinct honor to write Yaoguo’s citation for this well-deserved award.

"Yaoguo Li, 2010

Biography 2010

Yaoguo Li received a B.A.S. (1983) in geophysics from Wuhan College of Geology, China and a Ph.D. (1992) in geophysics from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He was with the UBC-Geophysical Inversion Facility in 1992–1999. He is currently an associate professor of geophysics with the Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines, where he directs the Center for Gravity, Electrical, and Magnetic Studies. His research interests include geophysical inverse theory; inversion of gravity, magnetic, and electromagnetic data arising from applied geophysics; and their application to environmental and resource-exploration problems.

He is a corecipient of the 1999 Gerald W. Hohmann Award. He is a member of AGU and SEG. [3]

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 1994

Yaoguo Li received, along with D. Oldenburg, the 1994 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper Inversion of induced polarization data.[4]


  1. Center for Gravity, Electrical and Magnetic studies: People
  2. (2017). Honors and Awards. The Leading Edge, 36(10), 806–819. http://dx.doi.org/10.1190/tle36100806.1
  3. Contributors, Geophysics, 75, no. 1, Z11-Z16.
  4. Oldenberg, D., and Li, Y., 1994, Inversion of induced polarization data: Geophysics, 59, no. 9, 1327-1341.

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