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Nanogeoscience is the study of nanoscale phenomena related to geological systems. Predominately, this is interrogated by studying environmental nanoparticles between 1-100 nanometers in size. Other applicable fields of study include studying materials with at least one dimension restricted to the nanoscale (e.g. thin films, confined fluids) and the transfer of energy, electrons, protons, and matter across environmental interfaces.


The atmosphere

As more dust enters the atmosphere due to the consequences of human activity (from direct effects, such as clearing of land and desertification, versus indirect effects, such as global warming), it becomes more important to understand the effects of mineral dust on the gaseous composition of the atmosphere, cloud formation conditions, and global-mean radiative forcing (i.e., heating or cooling effects).

The ocean

Oceanographers generally study particles that measure 0.2 micrometres and larger, which means a lot of nanoscale particles are not examined, particularly with respect to formation mechanisms.

The soils

  • Water–rock–bacteria nanoscience

Although by no means developed, nearly all aspects (both geo- and bioprocesses) of weathering, soil, and water–rock interaction science are inexorably linked to nanoscience. Within the Earth's near-surface, materials that are broken down, as well as materials that are produced, are often in the nanoscale regime. Further, as organic molecules, simple and complex, as well as bacteria and all flora and fauna in soils and rocks interact with the mineral components present, nanodimensions and nanoscale processes are the order of the day.

  • Metal transport nanoscience

On land, researchers study how nanosized minerals capture toxins such as arsenic, copper, and lead from the soil. Facilitating this process, called soil remediation, is a tricky business.

Nanogeoscience is in a relatively early stage of development. The future directions of nanoscience in the geosciences will include a determination of the identity, distribution, and unusual chemical properties of nanosized particles and/or films in the oceans, on the continents, and in the atmosphere, and how they drive Earth processes in unexpected ways. Further, nanotechnology will be the key to developing the next generation of Earth and environmental sensing systems.


  • The Case for Nanogeoscience, MICHAEL F. HOCHELLA, Jr., Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1093 (1), 108–122.
  • Charting the future of nanogeoscience, August 26, 2002, Dan Krotz
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nanogeoscience". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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