Digital Atlas of Natural Radiation

The human population is continuously exposed to ionizing radiation from several natural sources that can be classified in two categories:

  • Cosmic contribution: high-energy cosmic rays incident on the Earth's atmosphere and releasing secondary radiation
  • Terrestrial contribution: radioactive nuclides generated during the formation of the Earth and still present in the Earth's crust: mostly uranium and thorium radioactive families together with potassium (40K), which is a long-lived radioactive isotope of the elemental potassium. In most circumstances radon, a noble gas produced in the radioactive decay of the Uranium progeny, is the major contributor to the total dose.
The European Atlas of Natural Radiation

The European Atlas of Natural Radiation is a collection of maps displaying the levels of radioactivity caused by different natural sources in Europe.

The Atlas is intended to familiarise the public with the radioactive environment, to give a more balanced view of the annual dose that it may receive from natural radioactivity and to provide reference material and generate harmonised data for the scientific community. The overall goal of the Atlas is to estimate the annual dose that the public may receive from natural radioactivity, combining all the information from the different maps. Indeed, natural ionizing radiation is considered the largest contributor to the collective effective dose received by the world population.

The Atlas is developed and maintained by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

Atlas Maps

    Potassium concentration in soil


    The European potassium concentration in soil map displays the estimated concentration of potassium oxide (K2O) in soil over 10 km x 10 km grid cells. The map has been created using approximately 5000 data from topsoil samples belonging to two European databases: a) the Geochemical Atlas of Europe (, developed by the Forum of European Geological Surveys (FOREGS); and b) the Geochemical Mapping of Agricultural and Grazing Land Soil in Europe (GEMAS;, a project involving geochemistry experts from EuroGeoSurveys and Eurometaux organizations. The data were interpolated using ordinary kriging. For Belgium, the Czech Republic and Estonia, data from their national databases have been used.


    • Reimann C., Birke M., Demetriades A., Filzmoser P., ƠConnor P. (2014a). Chemistry of Europe's Agricultural Soils. Part A: Methodology and Interpretation of GEMAS Data Set.-Geol.Jb.,B 102:528 pp., 358 figs, 86 Tables, 1DVD; Hannover.
    • Reimann C., Birke M., Demetriades A., Filzmoser P., ƠConnor P. (2014b). Chemistry of Europe's Agricultural Soils. Part B: General Background Information and Further Analysis of Gemas Data Set.-Geol.Jb.,B 103:352 pp., 121 figs, 58 Tables, 3 App; Hannover.
    • EUROPE: Manuscript in preparation.
    • Belgium: Manuscript in preparation.
    • Czech Republic: Compilation of the Radiometric Map of the Czech Republic 1:500,000. Section copied from Manová m. and Matolín M. (1998): Radiometric map in Atlas of maps of the Czech Republic GEOCR 500, CD ROM, Czech Geological Survey, Prague. Download
    • Estonia: Petersell, V., Karimov, M.,  Täht-Kok, K., Shtokalenko, M., Nirgi, S., Saarik, K., Milvek, H., Lepasson, M., Polt, A. 2017. Eesti pinnase Rn-riski ja looduskiirguse atlas. Atlas of radon risk in Estonian soil and natural radiation. Tallinn. Geological Survey of Estonia. In preparation.

    Additional Information

    Resolution: 10000 m

    Last Modified: 31/01/2019

    Update frequency: Irregular