In the book Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, I came across the word "areology". Is this word often used in scientific publications, or is it a term limited to the scope of science-fiction, with scientists preferring to use the phrase "martian geology"?

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    $\begingroup$ areology being derived from the greek word for mars, Ares. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 2:25
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4 Answers 4


Good question. I work on the Curiosity team, and I hear "geology" all the time, but never "areology." Too bad, really, since it's a great word, and I love the R/G/B Mars series.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for being a first-hand source! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 8:46

A search on arXiv for "areology" produces no results. A search on ADS produces two results (one of which has the subtitle "The Geological Environment of Mars"). So the term is hardly ever used in titles of scientific publications. From google scholar, there seems to be a few publications about LIBS that use the term.

In conclusion, it seems that the neologism "areology" is not commonly used by scientists.


It does not appear to be a term in common usage in formal scientific settings. Wikipedia suggests that geology is a term generalised to all planets and areology is mainly used in popular media and science fiction.

"The geology of Mars is the scientific study of the surface, crust, and interior of the planet Mars. It emphasizes the composition, structure, history, and physical processes that shape the planet. It is analogous to the field of terrestrial geology. In planetary science, the term geology is used in its broadest sense to mean the study of the solid parts of planets and moons. The term incorporates aspects of geophysics, geochemistry, mineralogy, geodesy, and cartography.[2] A neologism, areology, from the Greek word Arēs (Mars), sometimes appears as a synonym for Mars's geology in the popular media and works of science fiction (e.g. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy).[3]"


Also, a Google scholar search for areology doesn't bring up many English language results about Mars, which suggests it is not the main term used in academia.


Wikipedia claims that selenology, areology exist as words.

However, given the scarcity of studies marked planetology (only 37 found in ArXiv at the moment) shows that planetary geology did not differentiate into planetary subfields yet. So Earth geologist will likely understand papers about planetary geology without taking many years of training.

The purpose of scientific domain and subdomain is to rally scientists that understand and comment on the studies of each other. Making a field that is too small would go contrary to the communication of scientific discovery by peer reviewed journals and conferences.


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