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The study of the distribution patterns of radioactive elements in the earth's crust and the role of radioactive processes in geologic phenomena.
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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 branch of geology that studies the rules of natural nuclear conversions in earth substances and the manifestation of these conversions in geological processes. The term “radiogeology” was introduced by V. I. Vernadskii in 1937.

Radiogeology is closely related to nuclear physics, geochemistry, and cosmochemistry. It is subdivided into radiogeology proper, isotope geology, and absolute chronology. Radiogeology proper concerns itself with all geological processes and phenomena involving radioactive decay. Radiogeology studies the evolution of, and variations in, the isotopic composition of natural elements. The absolute age of minerals and rocks is determined by the rate of radioactive decay; this is used as the basis for reconstructing the sequence of geological processes that occurred during the earth’s geological history.

Radiogeology also studies the energy balance of the processes of radioactive decay in the earth’s crust, a balance that in large part determines the earth’s geothermy. It seeks to establish the scientific foundations for radiometric methods of exploring and analyzing deposits of useful minerals. It studies nuclear reactions that occur in the earth’s crust and atmosphere under the influence of cosmic radiation. This last area of radiogeology has a task in common with cosmogony: determination of the evolution of atomic nuclei in the development of the universe.


Vernadskii, V. I. “O znachenii radiogeologii dlia sovremennoi geologii.” Izbr. soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1954.
Voitkevich, G. V. Problemy radiogeologii. Moscow, 1961.
Voitkevich, G. V. Radioaktivnost’v istorii Zemli. Moscow, 1970.
Lanonov, V. V. Iadernaia geologiia i geofizika. Moscow, 1973.
Cherdyntsev, V. V. Iadernaia vulkanologiia. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.