Using a genetic algorithm to solve an inverse problem of complex nonlinear geophysical equations is advantageous because it does not require computer gradients of models or "good" initial models. The multi-point search of a genetic algorithm makes it easier to find the globally optimal solution while avoiding falling into a local extremum. As is the case in other optimization approaches, the search efficiency for a genetic algorithm is vital in finding desired solutions successfully in a multi-dimensional model space. A binary-encoding genetic algorithm is hardly ever used to resolve an optimization problem such as a simple geophysical inversion with only three unknowns. The encoding mechanism, genetic operators, and population size of the genetic algorithm greatly affect search processes in the evolution. It is clear that improved operators and proper population size promote the convergence. Nevertheless, not all genetic operations perform perfectly while searching under either a uniform binary or a decimal encoding system. With the binary encoding mechanism, the crossover scheme may produce more new individuals than with the decimal encoding. On the other hand, the mutation scheme in a decimal encoding system will create new genes larger in scope than those in the binary encoding. This paper discusses approaches of exploiting the search potential of genetic operations in the two encoding systems and presents an approach with a hybrid-encoding mechanism, multi-point crossover, and dynamic population size for geophysical inversion. We present a method that is based on the routine in which the mutation operation is conducted in the decimal code and multi-point crossover operation in the binary code. The mix-encoding algorithm is called the hybrid-encoding genetic algorithm (HEGA). HEGA provides better genes with a higher probability by a mutation operator and improves genetic algorithms in resolving complicated geophysical inverse problems. Another significant result is that final solution is determined by the average model derived from multiple trials instead of one computation due to the randomness in a genetic algorithm procedure. These advantages were demonstrated by synthetic and real-world examples of inversion of potential-field data. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.