In the characterisation of amorphisation or local disordering due to actinide radiation damage, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is attractive because it is element specific and equally sensitive to local structure in crystalline and amorphous materials. Here, we have applied high-resolution solid-state NMR spectroscopy (magic-angle spinning) to radiation damaged natural minerals containing 238U/232Th to determine the ‘number fraction’ of amorphous material (fa) through spin-counting techniques. In samples with a known alpha dose, the number of atoms displaced per alpha decay may be determined from an integration of the spectrum. A protocol for performing similar radiological magic-angle spinning experiments on plutonium containing ceramic samples with an activity of > 5 GBq isp described. Results obtained have allowed data from ancient, radiation damaged mineral samples of ZrSiO4 (238U/232Th) to be compared with modern 238/239Pu doped ceramic ZrSiO4 samples. The number of atomic displacements per alpha particle from 239Pu is similar to that for 238U/232Th (4980 ± 300/α). At lower ?-doses there are significant differences in the amorphous volume fraction (observed by density and x-ray diffraction) and the number fraction of displaced atoms (as measured by NMR) as a function of cumulative dose. These differences arise from local density considerations that manifest themselves in the local structure of the amorphous and crystalline phases. Using ab initio simulations of the damaged crystalline and amorphous regions, the magnetic response of these structures and hence the NMR shifts can be compared with experiment to reveal the nature of radiation induced changes occurring at the local scale.