Yaoguo Li

Professor, Geophysics
Director, Center for Gravity, Electrical and Magnetic Studies

Yaoguo LiMy research interests are in inverse theory and its application in the interpretation of geophysical data sets arising from resources exploration and production, environmental, and groundwater problems. My main focus has been in developing practical algorithms for inverting gravity, magnetic, DC resistivity, and induced polarization data to reconstruct three-dimensional distribution of physical properties. I have been actively working on individual inversion methods as well as joint and cooperative strategies for inverting multiple sets of geophysical and geological data.

Within the context of geophysical inversion, I have also been interested in applying recently-developed numerical techniques in the neighboring disciplines to geophysical inversions. For instance, the interior-point method that revolutionized the field of optimization provides an ideal vehicle for incorporating a multitude of prior constraints into geophysical inversions. Incorporation of prior information specific to each data set allows one to construct models that are more representative of true geology. The newly-developed mathematical techniques such as wavelet transforms enables one to develop fast forward modeling methods for different geophysical data sets and allows one to solve inverse problems of much larger size than was possible by conventional approaches.

My recent research activity has been focused on the following areas:

  1. Joint inversion with petrophysical data
  2. Efficient numerical algorithms for large scale geophysical inversions
  3. Processing and inversion gravity gradiometry data with application to both petroleum and mineral exploration
  4. Time-lapse (4D) monitoring of aquifers and reservoirs
  5. Interpretation of magnetic data affected by remanent magnetization and self-demganetization


  • 1992: Ph.D., Geophysics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 1983: B.A.Sc., Geophysics, Wuhan College of Geology, Wuhan, China

Past & Current Research Projects

  • Geothermal monitoring with time-lapse gravity
  • Magnetization vector inversion
  • Joint and simultaneous inversion of geophysical data
  • Adaptive data sampling in compressive inversion
  • Borehole vector gravity
  • Extracting reservoir engineering parameters from time-lapse gravity data
  • Single hole imaging using gravity gradiometry data
  • Rapid geophysical inversion using adaptive octree, Hilbert space filling curve and wavelets
  • Advanced UXO detection and discrimination using extended Euler deconvolution and multipole moments
  • Improving UXO detection and discrimination in magnetic environments
  • Automatic detection of UXO target using extended Euler deconvolution
  • Understanding the multipole responses of magnetic field in UXO discrimination
  • Time-lapse (4D) gravity monitoring of groundwater aquifer and petroleum reservoirs
  • Interpretation of magnetic data with strong self-demagnetization effect
  • Inversion of magnetic data in the presence of strong remanent magnetization
  • Estimation of total magnetization direction by wavelet transform or cross-correlation
  • Binary inversion of gravity data in 3D
  • Binary minimization using genetic algorithm and quenched simulated annealing
  • Imaging cargo container using gravity gradiometry
  • Effect of low-pass filtering on the interpretation of airborne gravity gradiometry data
  • Consistent processing of multiple component gravity gradient data using an equivalent source technique
  • De-noising multiple component gravity gradient data using wavelet transform
  • Inversion of multi-component gravity gradiometer data
  • Application of interior-point method (IPM) in applied geophysical inversion
  • Fast inversion of large-scale geophysical data using wavelet transforms
  • Rapid construction of equivalent course layers using wavelet transform
  • Reduction to the pole at the magnetic equator using a regularized inverse formulation
  • Estimating depth of investigation in DC resistivity and IP surveys
  • Incorporating geological dip information into geophysical inversions
  • 3D inversion of DC resistivity and IP data
  • 2D inversion of DC resistivity and induced polarization (IP) data
  • 3D inversion of gravity data
  • Joint inversion of surface and borehole magnetic data
  • 3D inversion of magnetic data
  • Processing and inversion of multi-component gradiometry data

Professional Experience

  • 2011 to present: Associate Editor, Geophysics
  • 2007: Technical Chair, Symposium on Geophysics in Engineering and Environment Problems (SAGEEP), Denver, Colorado
  • 2006-present: Member, Graduate Council, CSM
  • 2006-2009: Chair, Graduate Advisory Committee, Department of Geophysics, CSM
  • 2004-2006: Chair, Undergraduate Advisory Committee, Department of Geophysics, CSM
  • 1998-2006: Member of Editorial Board, Journal of Applied Geophysics

Employment History

  • 1999-present: Associate Professor, Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
  • 1993-1997: Research Associate, UBC-Geophysical Inversion Facility, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
  • 1992-1993: Post-doctoral Fellow, UBC-Geophysical Inversion Facility, Department of Geophysics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
  • 1983-1985: Technician, Qinghai Research Institute of Geology, China

Courses taught

  • SYGN 201- Earth & environmental systems
  • GPGN 303 – Introduction to gravity, magnetic & electrical methods
  • GPGN 414/510 – Advanced gravity and magnetic methods
  • GPGN 599 – Numerical optimization for applied geophysics
  • GPGN 605 – Inversion Theory

Professional Societies

  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG)


  • 2007: SERDP Project of the Year: MM-1414 Improving detection and discrimination of UXO in magnetic environments (Principal Investigator)
  • 2005: Best Student Paper Award at 75th SEG Annual Meeting: Davis, K., Y. Li, and M. Nabighian, Automatic detection of UXO anomalies using extended Euler deconvolution, (advisor and co-author)
  • 2005: December, Outstanding Teacher Award, graduating class and ASCSM
  • 2004: Best Student Paper Award at 74th SEG Annual Meeting: Krahenbuhl, R., and Y. Li, Hybrid optimization for a binary inverse problem, (advisor and co-author)
  • 2001: December, Outstanding Teacher Award, graduating class and ASCSM
  • 2001: May, Outstanding Teacher Award, graduating class and ASCSM.
  • 2000: Honorable Mention for the Best Paper in Geophysics, 1999, D. W. Oldenburg and Y. Li, Estimating depth of investigation in DC resistivity and IP surveys.
  • 1999: Co-recipient, Gerald Hohmann Award for Excellence in Applied Electrical Methods.
  • 1995: Honorable Mention for the Best Paper in Geophysics, 1994: D. W. Oldenburg and Y. Li, Inversion of induced polarization data.