Li Siguang

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Li Siguang (李四光) (1889-1971) was a prominent geologist in China.

He wasborn to a poor family in Huanggang County of Hubei Province on October 26, 1889. He worked hard in his study and was admitted into a Wuchang higher education institute when he was only 13 years old.

Li Siguang

On the boat he took to Wuchang for further learning, he noticed that the large, surging waves created by warships of the imperialists were capsizing Chinese wooden boats in the Yangtze River. Li was quite indignant and vowed to drive imperialism out of China by producing big Chinese vessels. Later, he was recommended to study shipbuilding in Japan, as expected. But, since the steel that was needed to build ships came from mines, Li travelled halfway across the globe and studied mining at the University of Birmingham in the UK. Two years later, he changed his focus to studying geology because only by understanding the geological features would he be able to find iron ore, coal mines and petroleum. During this time, he earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree.


In the 1920s, Li worked as a professor at the Geology Department of Peking University and got his doctor's degree in Science at the University of Birmingham as well. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Li promoted China's geological work by providing many instructive suggestions on China's energy, earthquake and mineral resources. He was also a master in the fields of paleontology, quaternary glacial geology and geomechanics.

Another significant contribution of Li's was that he overthrew the long-believed view that China was an "oil-poor country." The world's largest oil fields had all been discovered in marine beds formed a hundred million years ago, while in China the stratum is mostly land formed millions of years ago. China therefore had been believed for a long time to be an "oil-poor country." However, after long-time research and investigation, Li disagreed and believed that oil fields could be discovered in both marine and continental stratum as long as it has the geological oil generating and bearing structure. Daqing oil field, Dagang oil field, Shengli oil field and Huabei oil field were all discovered following his theory and research.