An Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions

by L. Bruce Railsback
Department of Geology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 30602-2501 U.S.A.

The Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions, of which earlier versions were previously offered here in paper and jpeg form, will be published in September 2003 as an article in the Geological Society of America's journal Geology. The article itself cannot be offered here because of GSA's copyright. However, because of prepublication interest in the table, the following versions of the table are now made available here:

     Version 4.6a12 (the version converted to figure format for the Geology article).

     Version 4.7c (a version with the corrections below and with a few more features beyond Version 4.6).


     Notes to accompany the table.


Corrections and Addenda regarding the Version 4.6a12 (the version adapted for publication in Geology):

1. In the boxes for Si4- and P3-, the table says that "The only known natural occurrences of phosphides and silicides are in metorites and cosmic dust." There are in fact natural occurring terrestrial phosphides and silicides. Phosphides have been reported in iron masses from Disko Island, Greenland (Pedersen, A K. & Ronsbo, J . (1987) Oxygen deficient Ti oxides (natural magneli phases) from mudstone xenoliths with native iron from Disko, central West Greenland. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 96, 35-46). Iron phosphide and various iron silicides, along with native silicon, have been found in a terrestrial fulgurite (lightning strike melt) (Essene, E.J. & Fisher, D.C. (1986) Lightning strike fusion: extreme reduction and metal-silicate liquid immiscibility.Science 234, 189-193). Essene and Fisher also list many other reported terrestrial occurrences of silicides.

2. Inset 5 shows names for nitrate minerals. The currently accepted names for NaNO3 and KNO3 are nitratine and niter, respectively, rather than soda niter and nitre.

    If you spot more problems, please send your comments to


Large Prints

If you want a large (up to 36"x76") (90 cm x 190 cm) paper print of Version 4.7 to mount in a classroom, one can be made. The UGA Geology Department will ask for a $20.00 payment per table to cover the printing and mailing costs. The payment would be a check to "UGA Department of Geology", not to Railsback, with "Periodic Table" in the memo line, and sent to "Department of Geology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-2501". Also contact Bruce Railsbackdirectly by email so the printing can begin. Interested persons outside the US should contact Railsback about issues of currency conversion.


Accompanying Figures

     There are also some accompanying figures to illustrate the usefulness and application of the Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions. Some of these (3, 6, and 7) have become insets in the Table; the others have not.
Accompanying Figure 1 shows how speciation in aqueous solution varies across an important part of the periodic table.
Accompanying Figure 2 shows which elements make oxide minerals and which only make oxo-complexes in solution and/or gaseous oxides.
Accompanying Figure 3 shows patterns in the chemistry of simple oxysalt minerals.
Accompanying Figure 4 shows patterns in the chemistry of OH-- and O2--bearing oxysalt minerals.
Accompanying Figure 5 shows patterns in the chemistry of carbonate minerals,
Accompanying Figure 6 shows variation in the solubility of oxides of hard cations.
Accompanying Figure 7 shows variation in the melting temperature of oxides of hard cations.
Accompanying Figure 8 shows patterns of substitution of ions in igneous minerals
Accompanying Figure 9 categorizes cations across an important part of the periodic table according to their behavior in the crystallization of magmas.
Accompanying Figure 10 shows that Si4+ is scarce in early-forming igneous phases and only becomes abundant in late-forming igneous phases. It's part of an argument developed in Accompanying Figure 9.



     Railsback has a roughly hour-long presentation to introduce the periodic table to academic audiences. It includes several diagrams in addition to the table itself. If you're interested in having him come to your institution to bore your students and/or colleagues with that talk, email him at He'll bring a wall-size paper copy for the talk and leave that copy for your institution's further use (it lines bottoms of bird cages quite well).


If you bookmark this periodic table, you should bookmark this page rather than a jpeg or pdf file. That is because files for subsequent versions of the table will have different URLs than that of the present version. The URL of this page should not change.

email to Bruce Railsback (
Back to Railsback's main web page.