Published September 2, 2022 | Version v1
Journal article Open

International Union of Geological Sciences Manual of Standard Methods for Establishing the Global Geochemical Reference Network

  • 1. Hellenic Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration,
  • 2. GeoElementary
  • 3. United States Geological Survey
  • 4. Geological Survey of Sweden
  • 5. Instituto Geológico y Minero de España
  • 6. Department of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • 7. Geoscience Australia
  • 8. Consultant geochemist
  • 9. Servicio Geológico Colombiano
  • 10. Geological Survey of Namibia


Source web page:


Everything in and on the Earth - mineral, animal and vegetable - is made from one, or generally some combination of, the natural chemical elements occurring in the rocks of the Earth’s crust and the surficial materials derived from them. Everything that is grown, or made, depends upon the availability of the appropriate elements. The existence, quality and survival of life depends upon the availability of elements in the correct proportions and combinations. Because natural processes and human activities are continuously modifying the chemical composition of our environment, it is important to determine the present abundance and spatial distribution of the elements across the Earth’s surface in a much more systematic manner than has been attempted hitherto” (Darnley et al., 1995, p.x).

Although such a global database is urgently needed for multi-purpose use, the systematic attempt is still in its infancy because of the non-existence of a manual of comprehensive and standardised methods of sampling and other supporting procedures. The current ‘International Union of Geological Sciences Manual of Standard Methods for Establishing the Global Geochemical Reference Network’ fills this gap. The Manual follows the concept of 7356 Global Terrestrial Network grid cells of 160x160 km, covering the land surface of Earth, with five random sites within each grid cell for the collection of samples. This allows the establishment of the standardised Global Geochemical Reference Network with respect to rock, residual soil, humus, overbank sediment, stream water, stream sediment and floodplain sediment. Apart from the instructions for the collection of samples, the Manual covers sample preparation and storage, development of reference materials, geoanalytical methods, quality control procedures, geodetic and parametric levelling of existing geochemical data sets, data conditioning for the generation of time-independent geochemical data, management of data and map production, and finally project management.

This Manual presents, for the first time a comprehensive overview of the standardised methods that should be employed across the land surface of the Earth to map the distribution of chemical elements in rock, soil, sediment and water.

The methods described herein, apart from their use for Establishing the Global Geochemical Reference Network, can be used in other geochemical surveys at any mapping scale.

The URL of the pdf file is:


The Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences at its 77th meeting in Paris (16-18 March 2022), unanimously approved the “International Union of Geological Sciences Manual of Standard Methods for Establishing the Global Geochemical Reference Network” to be published as a formal IUGS Publication for its 60th Anniversary celebration.

The IUGS Executive Committee members John Ludden (President), Hassina Mouri (Vice President), Daekyo Cheong (Vice President), Stanley C. Finney (Secretary-General), Hiroshi Kitazato (Treasurer), Qiuming Cheng (Past President), Silvia Peppoloni (Councillor), Claudia Inés Mora (Councillor), Jennifer McKinley (Councillor), and Ludwig Stroink (Councillor) are thanked for approving the publication of this Manual.

Supplementary material

The supplementary material provided in different Chapters and Annexes is very important and should be consulted:

Chapter 2 Supplementary material

Chapter 2 Annexe A2.1 Supplementary material

Chapter 3.2 Annexe A3.2.1 Supplementary material

Chapter 7 Supplementary material

Chapter 8 Supplementary material

An innovation for this freely available publication is the provision of the original MicrosoftTM Word files, Original figures, and PowerPoint presentations with embedded figures: 

Chapter files: Word text; Original figures; PowerPoint presentations


CITATION: Demetriades, A., Johnson, C.C., Smith, D.B., Ladenberger, A., Adánez Sanjuan, P., Argyraki, A., Stouraiti, C., Caritat, P. de, Knights, K.V., Prieto Rincón, G. & Simubali, G.N. (Editors), 2022. International Union of Geological Sciences Manual of Standard Methods for Establishing the Global Geochemical Reference Network. IUGS Commission on Global Geochemical Baselines, Athens, Hellenic Republic, Special Publication, 2, 515 pp.;



Files (98.9 MB)