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

    Soil permeability


    The European map of soil permeability displays the percentage of topsoil fine fraction (<63 micro m). It is possible to derive a rough estimation of the permeability very easily from the weight percentage of fine fraction. Following the Czech approach, soils with a weight percentage of the fine fraction below 15% were designated as highly permeable, those in the 15–65% range as medium permeable and those above 65% as low permeable ones (Barnet et al. 2008). Soil data from the LUCAS database (Ballabio et al., 2014) have been used to estimate the percentage of fine fraction.


    • Ballabio C., Panagos P., Montanarella L. Mapping topsoil physical properties at European scale using the LUCAS database (2016). Geoderma, 261, pp. 110-123. Download
    • Barnet, I., Pacherova´, P., & Neznal, M. (2008). Radon in geological environment—Czech experience Czech Geological Survey Special Papers, No. 19, Prague, pp. 19–28.
    • Information about methodology: download

    Additional Information

    Resolution: 500 m

    Last Modified: 26/04/2017

    Update frequency: Irregular