Also found in: Medical.


The process of formation of calculi or stones.
The branch of science dealing with the formation of rocks, especially the formation of sedimentary rocks.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the complex of natural processes in the formation and subsequent changes of sedimentary rocks. The principal factors in lithogenesis are tectonic movements and climate. The concept of lithogenesis was introduced in 1893–94 by J. Walther, who identified five principal phases in the process of the formation of sedimentary rocks: weathering of rocks, denudation (including transportation of the raw material of the sediments), deposition, diagenesis, and metamorphism.

The following stages are distinguished in the cycle of lithogenesis: (1) superficial hypergenesis—the formation and concentration of the raw material of the sediments during the process of mechanical and chemical weathering of parent rocks and the transportation of this material to its burial place; (2) sedimento-génesis—the entry of sediments into terminal runoff basins and final deposition; (3) diagenesis—the physical and chemical stabilizing of the water-saturated sediment, concluding with its conversion into sedimentary rock; (4) catagenesis (sometimes this stage is imprecisely called epigénesis)—further changes in the rock as the depth of its burial increases, as a result of rising temperature and pressure and, in some cases, the effect of water solutions and gases; and (5) metagenesis, or metamorphism proper—further transformation of the composition of rocks, especially clayey rocks, as they are buried deeper. Metagenesis manifests itself most often in geosynclines.

Some investigators (the Soviet geologists N. M. Strakhov and N. V. Logvinenko, for example) include only hypergenesis, sedi-mentogenesis, and diagenesis in lithogenesis and consider metagenesis to be an independent stage between catagenesis and metamorphism.

When a particular sector of the earth’s crust stops subsiding and is uplifted instead, progressive lithogenesis is halted in one of its stages and regressive lithogenesis begins. Regressive lithogenesis concludes with hypergenesis, which is at first concealed or takes place underground (under anaerobic conditions) and, later, on the surface, when rocks are subjected to denudation, which ends one cycle of lithogenesis and begins a new one.

The Soviet geologist N. M. Strakhov was the first (1956) to identify the basic types of lithogenesis: glacial, humid, arid, and volcanogenic-sedimentary, which appear to have existed since post-Riphean times. In glacial lithogenesis the processes of sediment formation take place in sectors of the continents that are covered by ice; lithogenesis occurs in the form of mechanical rock formation with undefined differentiation of the material. Humid lithogenesis is typical of rock formation on land and in seas under conditions of a moist climate. In arid lithogenesis rock formation takes place on the continents and in seas under conditions of an arid climate. Volcanogenic-sedimentary lithogenesis is characterized by rock formation in regions with terrestrial and underwater volcanic activity and in the areas adjacent to them. The first three types of lithogenesis are caused by climate, and therefore their distribution on the earth’s surface is zonal and they are most pronounced on the platforms. Volcanogenic-sedimentary lithogenesis does not depend on climate and occurs throughout the zones, primarily in geosynclinal areas— that is, in the most tectonically active areas. Each type of lithogenesis has a typical combination of sedimentary rocks, which reflects the specific course of mechanical and chemical sedimentary differentiation and also of biogenic processes and volcanic activity.

Since lithogenesis is the process of sedimentary rock formation, the formation of a very large number of the most diverse mineral products, including coal, oil, combustible natural gases, iron and manganese ores, bauxites, phosphorites, and placer deposits, is associated with it.


Strakhov, N. M. Tipy litogeneza i ikh evoliutsiia v istorii Zemli. Moscow, 1963.
Diagenez i katagenez osadochnykh obrazovanii. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from English.)
Vassoevich, N. B. “Eshche o terminakh dlia oboznacheniia stadii i eta-pov litogeneza.” Tr. Vses. neftianogo nauchno-issledovatel’skogo geolo-go-razvedochnogo instituta, 1962, no. 190.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Finally, the minute percentage of COM in uric acid containing stones (#26 and #128) would not change the clinical approach since preventive treatment of uric acid stones certainly does not aggravate the risk of CaOx lithogenesis.
There have been a number of studies on the association between GS formation and alcoholism in an attempt to understand the mechanism of lithogenesis [29,48-56].
The observation that despite of removal of subjects from exposure source, their high calculi lead levels suggest that lead from internal body stores such as skeleton is also mobilized and circulated in physiological fluids during development of lithogenesis and deposit in growing calculi.
Unfortunately, in practice general practitioners at the first visit take no notice of this parameter and specialists frequently ignore and do not interpreter it in the processes of the urinary lithogenesis. Additionally due to incorrect collection of the urine samples and methods of measurement, the false result is frequently obtained.
Presence of salts crystals in the urine sediment was regarded as a sign of initial urolithiasis stage (pre-lithiasis) which precedes a possible lithogenesis (stone formation) or accompanies this process that proves to be true by researches of Sachideu et al.
Strakhov, N.M., 1967, Principles of Lithogenesis, Volume 1: Oliver and Boyd Ltd., Edinburgh, 245 p.
Effect of alcohol and smoking on pancreatic lithogenesis in the course of chronic pancreatitis.
DISCUSSION: There are thought to be a series of stages that lead to the formation of a calculi (lithogenesis).
However, during the formation of cholesterol gallstones, different links in the disturbance of lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism [9] and their effects in lithogenesis still have many controversies.