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Encyclopedia > Abundance of the chemical elements

The abundance of a chemical element measures how relatively common the element is, or how much of the element there is by comparison to all other elements. Abundance may be variously measured by the mass-fraction (the same as weight fraction), or mole-fraction (fraction of atoms, or sometimes fraction of molecules, in gases), or by volume fraction. Measurement by volume-fraction is a common abundance measure in mixed gases such as atmospheres, which is close to molecular mole-fraction for ideal gas mixtures (i.e., gas mixtures at relatively low densities and pressures). The periodic table of the chemical elements A chemical element, or element, is a type of atom that is defined by its atomic number; that is, by the number of protons in its nucleus. ...


For example, the mass-fraction abundance of oxygen in water is about 89%, because that is the fraction of water's mass which is oxygen. However, the mole-fraction abundance of oxygen in water is only 33% because only 1 atom in 3 in water is an oxygen atom. In the universe as a whole, and in the atmospheres of gas-giant planets such as Jupiter, the mass-fraction abundances of hydrogen and helium are about 74% and 23-25% respectively, while the (atomic) mole-fractions of these elements are closer to 92% and 8%. However, since hydrogen is diatomic while helium is not in the conditions of Jupiter's outer atmosphere, the molecular mole-fraction (fraction of total gas molecules, or fraction of atmosphere by volume) of hydrogen in the outer atmosphere of Jupiter is about 86%, and for helium, 13%.


Most abundances in this article are given as mass-fraction abundances.

Contents

Abundance of elements in the Universe

The elements - namely ordinary (baryonic) matter made out of protons and neutrons (as well as electrons) - are only a small part of the content of the Universe. Cosmological observations suggest that about 73% of the universe consists of dark energy, 23% is composed of dark matter and only 4% corresponds to the visible baryonic matter which constitutes stars, planets and living beings. Dark matter has not yet been detected in a particle physics detector, and the nature of the dark energy is not yet understood. Combinations of three u, d or s-quarks with a total spin of 3/2 form the so-called baryon decuplet. ... For other uses, see Proton (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For other uses, see Electron (disambiguation). ... Observational cosmology is the study of the structure, the evolution and the origin of the universe through observation, using instruments such as telescopes and cosmic ray detectors. ... In physical cosmology, dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to increase the rate of expansion of the universe. ... For other uses, see Dark matter (disambiguation). ... Combinations of three u, d or s-quarks with a total spin of 3/2 form the so-called baryon decuplet. ... This article is about matter in physics and chemistry. ... STARS can mean: Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society Special Tactics And Rescue Service, a fictional task force that appears in Capcoms Resident Evil video game franchise. ... A planet (from the Greek πλανήτης, planetes or wanderers) is a body of considerable mass that orbits a star and that produces very little or no energy through nuclear fusion. ... Look up living in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Thousands of particles explode from the collision point of two relativistic (100 GeV per nucleon) gold ions in the STAR detector of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. ...


Most standard (baryonic) matter is found in the form of atoms, although there are many other unusual kinds of matter, mostly plasma. Other forms of baryonic matter include white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. Standard matter also exists as photons (mostly in the cosmic microwave background) and neutrons. For other uses, see Plasma. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For the story by Larry Niven, see Neutron Star (story). ... For other uses, see Black hole (disambiguation). ... In physics, the photon (from Greek φως, phōs, meaning light) is the quantum of the electromagnetic field; for instance, light. ... WMAP image of the CMB anisotropy,Cosmic microwave background radiation(June 2003) The cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) is a form of electromagnetic radiation that fills the whole of the universe. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the known Universe; helium is second. However, after this, the rank of abundance does not continue to correspond to the atomic number; oxygen has abundance rank 3, but atomic number 8. All others are orders of magnitude less common. This article is about the chemistry of hydrogen. ... For other uses, see Universe (disambiguation). ... General Name, symbol, number helium, He, 2 Chemical series noble gases Group, period, block 18, 1, s Appearance colorless Standard atomic weight 4. ... See also: List of elements by atomic number In chemistry and physics, the atomic number (also known as the proton number) is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom. ... General Name, symbol, number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series nonmetals, chalcogens Group, period, block 16, 2, p Appearance colourless (gas) colourless (liquid) Standard atomic weight 15. ... An order of magnitude is the class of scale or magnitude of any amount, where each class contains values of a fixed ratio to the class preceding it. ...


The abundance of the lightest elements is well predicted by the standard cosmological model, since they were mostly produced shortly (i.e., within a few hundred seconds) after the Big Bang, in a process known as Big Bang nucleosynthesis. Heavier elements were mostly produced much later, inside stars. A pie chart indicating the proportional composition of different energy-density components of the universe. ... For other uses, see Big Bang (disambiguation). ... In cosmology, Big Bang nucleosynthesis (or primordial nucleosynthesis) refers to the production of nuclei other than H-1, the normal, light hydrogen, during the early phases of the universe, shortly after the Big Bang. ... This article is about the astronomical object. ...


Helium-3 is rare on Earth and sought-after for use in nuclear fusion research. More abundant helium-3 is thought to exist on the Moon. Additional helium is produced by the fusion of hydrogen inside stellar cores by a variety of processes including the proton-proton chain and the CNO cycle. The deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion reaction is considered the most promising for producing fusion power. ... The proton-proton chain reaction is one of two fusion reactions by which stars convert hydrogen to helium, the other being the CNO cycle. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...


Hydrogen and helium are estimated to make up roughly 74% and 24% of all baryonic matter in the universe respectively. Despite comprising only a very small fraction of the universe, the remaining "heavy elements" can greatly influence astronomical phenomena. Only about 2% (by mass) of the Milky Way galaxy's disk is composed of heavy elements. The Milky Way (a translation of the Latin Via Lactea, in turn derived from the Greek Galaxia Kuklos; or simply the Galaxy) is a barred spiral galaxy in the Local Group, and has special significance to humanity as the location of the solar system, which is located near the Orion...


These other elements are generated by stellar processes[1][2][3]. In astronomy, a "metal" is any element other than hydrogen or helium. This distinction is significant because hydrogen and helium (together with trace amounts of lithium) are the only elements that occur naturally without the nuclear fusion activity of stars. Thus, the metallicity of a galaxy or other object is an indication of past stellar activity. For other uses, see Astronomy (disambiguation). ... This article is about the chemical element named Lithium. ... This article is about the astronomical object. ... The globular cluster M80. ... For other uses, see Galaxy (disambiguation). ...


These are the ten most common elements in the Universe as measured in parts per million, by mass[citation needed]:

Element Parts per million
Hydrogen 739,000
Helium 240,000
Oxygen 10,700
Carbon 4,600
Neon 1,340
Iron 1,090
Nitrogen 950
Silicon 650
Magnesium 580
Sulfur 440
All Others 650

See also: Stellar population This article is about the chemistry of hydrogen. ... General Name, symbol, number helium, He, 2 Chemical series noble gases Group, period, block 18, 1, s Appearance colorless Standard atomic weight 4. ... General Name, symbol, number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series nonmetals, chalcogens Group, period, block 16, 2, p Appearance colourless (gas) colourless (liquid) Standard atomic weight 15. ... For other uses, see Carbon (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Neon (disambiguation). ... General Name, symbol, number iron, Fe, 26 Chemical series transition metals Group, period, block 8, 4, d Appearance lustrous metallic with a grayish tinge Standard atomic weight 55. ... General Name, symbol, number nitrogen, N, 7 Chemical series nonmetals Group, period, block 15, 2, p Appearance colorless gas Standard atomic weight 14. ... Not to be confused with Silicone. ... General Name, symbol, number magnesium, Mg, 12 Chemical series alkaline earth metals Group, period, block 2, 3, s Appearance silvery white solid at room temp Standard atomic weight 24. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... Stars observed in our galaxy appear to group into two general types called Population I and Population II. (A hypothetical third group, Population III, does not occur in our galaxy. ...


Abundance of elements on Earth

See also: Earth#Chemical composition

The Earth formed from the same cloud of matter that formed the Sun, but the planets acquired different compositions during the formation and evolution of the solar system. The history of Earth caused parts of this planet to have differing concentrations of the elements. This article is about Earth as a planet. ... This article is about Earth as a planet. ... The theories concerning the formation and evolution of the Solar System are complex and varied, interweaving various scientific disciplines, from astronomy and physics to geology and planetary science. ... Geological time put in a diagram called a geological clock, showing the relative lengths of the eons of the Earths history. ...


Abundance of elements in Earth's crust

This graph illustrates the relative abundance of the chemical elements in Earth's upper continental crust.

Abundance (atom fraction) of the chemical elements in Earth's upper continental crust as a function of atomic number.
Abundance (atom fraction) of the chemical elements in Earth's upper continental crust as a function of atomic number.

Many of the elements shown in the graphic are classified into (partially overlapping) categories: Image File history File links relative abundance of elements in Earths crust graphic from public domain sourcehttp://geopubs. ... Image File history File links relative abundance of elements in Earths crust graphic from public domain sourcehttp://geopubs. ...

  1. rock-forming elements (major elements in green field and minor elements in light green field);
  2. rare earth elements (lanthanides, La-Lu, and Y; labeled in blue);
  3. major industrial metals (global production >~3×107 kg/year; labeled in bold);
  4. precious metals (italic);
  5. the nine rarest "metals" — the six platinum group elements plus Au, Re, and Te (a metalloid).

Note that there are two breaks where the unstable elements technetium (atomic number: 43) and promethium (atomic number: 61) would be. These are very rare, as on Earth they are only produced through the fission of heavy radioactive elements (for example, uranium or thorium). Both elements have been identified spectroscopically in the atmospheres of stars, where they are produced by ongoing nucleosynthetic processes. There are also breaks where the six noble gases would be as they are found in the Earth's crust due to decay chains from radioactive elements and are therefore not included. The six very rare, highly radioactive elements (polonium, astatine, francium, radium, actinium and protactinium) are not included, as their natural abundances are too low to have been accurately measured. Rare earth ore Rare earth elements and rare earth metals are trivial names sometimes applied to a collection of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table, namely scandium, yttrium, and the lanthanides. ... For the CSI episode of the same name, see Precious Metal (CSI episode). ... The platinum group or platinum metals is the collective name sometimes used for six chemical elements within the periodic table. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... General Name, Symbol, Number rhenium, Re, 75 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 7, 6, d Appearance grayish white Standard atomic weight 186. ... General Name, Symbol, Number tellurium, Te, 52 Chemical series metalloids Group, Period, Block 16, 5, p Appearance silvery lustrous gray Standard atomic weight 127. ... General Name, Symbol, Number technetium, Tc, 43 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 7, 5, d Appearance silvery gray metal Standard atomic weight [98](0) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Kr] 4d5 5s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 13, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ... General Name, Symbol, Number promethium, Pm, 61 Chemical series lanthanides Group, Period, Block n/a, 6, f Appearance metallic Atomic mass [145](0) g/mol Electron configuration [Xe] 4f5 6s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 23, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ... For the generation of electrical power by fission, see Nuclear power plant. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... General Name, Symbol, Number thorium, Th, 90 Chemical series Actinides Group, Period, Block n/a, 7, f Appearance silvery white Standard atomic weight 232. ... This article is about the chemical series. ... General Name, Symbol, Number polonium, Po, 84 Chemical series metalloids Group, Period, Block 16, 6, p Appearance silvery Standard atomic weight (209) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s2 6p4 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 6 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ... General Name, Symbol, Number astatine, At, 85 Chemical series halogens Group, Period, Block 17, 6, p Appearance metallic (presumed) Standard atomic weight (210) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s2 6p5 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 7 Physical properties Phase solid Melting point 575 K... General Name, Symbol, Number francium, Fr, 87 Chemical series alkali metals Group, Period, Block 1, 7, s Appearance metallic Standard atomic weight (223) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Rn] 7s1 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8, 1 Physical properties Phase  ? solid Density (near r. ... General Name, Symbol, Number radium, Ra, 88 Chemical series alkaline earth metals Group, Period, Block 2, 7, s Appearance silvery white metallic Standard atomic weight (226) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Rn] 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ... General Name, Symbol, Number actinium, Ac, 89 Chemical series actinides Group, Period, Block 3, 7, f Appearance silvery Standard atomic weight (227) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Rn] 6d1 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 9, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ... General Name, Symbol, Number protactinium, Pa, 91 Chemical series actinides Group, Period, Block n/a, 7, f Appearance bright, silvery metallic luster Standard atomic weight 231. ...


Oxygen and silicon are notably common; they form several common silicate minerals. General Name, symbol, number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series nonmetals, chalcogens Group, period, block 16, 2, p Appearance colourless (gas) colourless (liquid) Standard atomic weight 15. ... Not to be confused with Silicone. ... The silicate minerals make up the largest and most important class of rock-forming minerals. ...


"Rare earth" element abundances

"Rare" earth elements is a historical misnomer; persistence of the term reflects unfamiliarity rather than true rarity. The more abundant rare earth elements are each similar in crustal concentration to commonplace industrial metals such as chromium, nickel, copper, zinc, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, or lead. Even the two least abundant rare earth elements (Tm, Lu) are nearly 200 times more common than gold. However, in contrast to ordinary base and precious metals, rare earth elements have very little tendency to become concentrated in exploitable ore deposits. Consequently, most of the world's supply of rare earth elements comes from only a handful of sources.


Differences in abundances of individual rare earth elements in the upper continental crust of Earth represent the superposition of two effects, one nuclear and one geochemical. First, rare earth elements with even atomic numbers (58Ce, 60Nd, ...) have greater cosmic and terrestrial abundances than adjacent rare earth elements with odd atomic numbers (57La, 59Pr, ...). Second, the lighter rare earth elements are more incompatible (because they have larger ionic radii) and therefore more strongly concentrated in the continental crust than the heavier rare earth elements. In most rare earth deposits, the first four rare earth elements - La, Ce, Pr, and Nd - constitute 80 to 99% of the total.


Ocean

Elemental composition of Earth's ocean water (by mass)
Element Percent Element Percent
Oxygen 85.84 Sulfur 0.091
Hydrogen 10.82 Calcium 0.04
Chlorine 1.94 Potassium 0.04
Sodium 1.08 Bromine 0.0067
Magnesium 0.1292 Carbon 0.0028

See sea water for abundance of elements in the ocean, but note that that list is by mass - a list by molarity (mole-fraction) would look very different for the first 4 elements; specifically, hydrogen would comprise nearly two-thirds of the number of all atoms because hydrogen itself comprises two of the three atoms of all water molecules. General Name, symbol, number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series nonmetals, chalcogens Group, period, block 16, 2, p Appearance colourless (gas) colourless (liquid) Standard atomic weight 15. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... This article is about the chemistry of hydrogen. ... For other uses, see Calcium (disambiguation). ... General Name, symbol, number chlorine, Cl, 17 Chemical series halogens Group, period, block 17, 3, p Appearance yellowish green Standard atomic weight 35. ... General Name, symbol, number potassium, K, 19 Chemical series alkali metals Group, period, block 1, 4, s Appearance silvery white Standard atomic weight 39. ... For sodium in the diet, see Edible salt. ... Bromo redirects here. ... General Name, symbol, number magnesium, Mg, 12 Chemical series alkaline earth metals Group, period, block 2, 3, s Appearance silvery white solid at room temp Standard atomic weight 24. ... For other uses, see Carbon (disambiguation). ... Sea water is water from a sea or ocean. ... This page refers to concentration in the chemical sense. ...


Atmosphere

The order of elements by volume-fraction (which is approximately molecular mole-fraction) in the atmosphere is nitrogen (78.1%), oxygen (20.9%), argon (0.96%), followed by (in uncertain order) carbon and hydrogen because water vapor and carbon dioxide, which represent most of these two elements in the air, are variable components. Sulfur, phosphorus, and all other elements are present in significantly lower proportions. Air redirects here. ... General Name, symbol, number nitrogen, N, 7 Chemical series nonmetals Group, period, block 15, 2, p Appearance colorless gas Standard atomic weight 14. ... General Name, symbol, number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series nonmetals, chalcogens Group, period, block 16, 2, p Appearance colourless (gas) colourless (liquid) Standard atomic weight 15. ... General Name, symbol, number argon, Ar, 18 Chemical series noble gases Group, period, block 18, 3, p Appearance colorless Standard atomic weight 39. ...


According to the above graphic, argon, a significant if not major component of the atmosphere, does not appear in the crust at all. This is because the atmosphere has a far smaller mass than the crust, so argon remaining in the crust contributes little to mass-fraction there, while at the same time buildup of argon in the atmosphere has become large enough to be significant.


Human body

By mass, human cells consist of 65-90% water (H2O), and a significant portion is composed of carbon-containing organic molecules. Oxygen therefore contributes a majority of a human body's mass, followed by carbon. 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.

Element Percent by mass
Oxygen 65
Carbon 18
Hydrogen 10
Nitrogen 3
Calcium 1.5
Phosphorus 1.2
Potassium 0.2
Sulfur 0.2
Chlorine 0.2
Sodium 0.1
Magnesium 0.05
Iron, Cobalt, Copper, Zinc, Iodine <0.05 each
Selenium, Fluorine <0.01 each

Chang, Raymond (2007). Chemistry, Ninth Edition. McGraw-Hill, p. 52. ISBN 0-07-110595-6.  General Name, symbol, number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series nonmetals, chalcogens Group, period, block 16, 2, p Appearance colourless (gas) colourless (liquid) Standard atomic weight 15. ... For other uses, see Carbon (disambiguation). ... This article is about the chemistry of hydrogen. ... General Name, symbol, number nitrogen, N, 7 Chemical series nonmetals Group, period, block 15, 2, p Appearance colorless gas Standard atomic weight 14. ... For other uses, see Calcium (disambiguation). ... General Name, symbol, number phosphorus, P, 15 Chemical series nonmetals Group, period, block 15, 3, p Appearance waxy white/ red/ black/ colorless Standard atomic weight 30. ... General Name, symbol, number potassium, K, 19 Chemical series alkali metals Group, period, block 1, 4, s Appearance silvery white Standard atomic weight 39. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... General Name, symbol, number chlorine, Cl, 17 Chemical series halogens Group, period, block 17, 3, p Appearance yellowish green Standard atomic weight 35. ... For sodium in the diet, see Edible salt. ... General Name, symbol, number magnesium, Mg, 12 Chemical series alkaline earth metals Group, period, block 2, 3, s Appearance silvery white solid at room temp Standard atomic weight 24. ... General Name, symbol, number iron, Fe, 26 Chemical series transition metals Group, period, block 8, 4, d Appearance lustrous metallic with a grayish tinge Standard atomic weight 55. ... For other uses, see Cobalt (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Copper (disambiguation). ... General Name, symbol, number zinc, Zn, 30 Chemical series transition metals Group, period, block 12, 4, d Appearance bluish pale gray Standard atomic weight 65. ... For other uses, see Iodine (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Selenium (disambiguation). ... Distinguished from fluorene and fluorone. ...


See also

<< Chemical elements data references // Earth bulk continental crust and upper continental crust C1 — Crust: CRC Handbook C2 — Crust: Kaye & Laby C3 — Crust: Greenwood C4 — Crust: Ahrens (Taylor) C5 — Crust: Ahrens (Wänke) C6 — Crust: Ahrens (Weaver) U1 — Upper crust: Ahrens (Taylor) U2 — Upper crust: Ahrens (Shaw) Mass fraction, in kg... The living beings which inhabit the earth are all very different both in size and in form. ... The Chemical Galaxy Longman Version The Chemical Galaxy is a new periodic table designed by Philip Stewart in November 2004 based on the cyclical nature of characteristics of the chemical elements (which depend principally on the valence electrons). ... The human body is a combination of elements and compounds. ... In cosmochemistry, the Cosmochemical Periodic Table of the Elements in the Solar System is a periodic table that lists all known chemical elements. ... Natural abundance refers to the prevalence of different isotopes of an element as found in nature. ... The Periodic Table redirects here. ...

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ H. E. Suess and H. C. Urey (1956) Abundances of the elements, Rev Mod Phys 28:53-74.
  2. ^ A. G. W. Cameron (1973) Abundances of the elements in the solar system, Space Sci Rev 15:121-146.
  3. ^ E. Anders and M. Ebihara (1982) Solar-system abundances of the elements, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 46:2363-2380.

External links

  • List of elements in order of abundance in the Earth's crust (only correct for the twenty most common elements)
  • Cosmic abundance of the elements and nucleosynthesis

Parts of this article are taken from the public domain sources at http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/fact-sheet/fs087-02/ and http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/dict_ei.html Please update as needed.

 
 

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