Biogeochemical Cycles Examples

Biogeochemical Cycles

The planet functions under the strictures of the law of conservation of matter, which basically says that matter on Earth cannot be created or destroyed, but only transferred. Therefore, the planet's biogeochemical cycles are the mechanisms that cause the transfer of matter.

The only exception to this introduction of new matter into the planet's closed system is in meteors, solar radiation, and other forms of debris from space that occasionally become incorporated into the planet's matter. Otherwise, all matter on Earth is simply moved and transformed, but is not created and is not wholly destroyed into nonexistence.

The term "biogeochemical cycle" comes from the biological, geological, and chemical processes that cause this transfer of matter to occur. Since these different cycles are naturally occurring, for the most part, they've long been considered natural cycles.

Humans have had tremendous impact on the planet's biogeochemical cycles, largely for harm. Artificial processes such as the synthesis of phosphorous into fertilizer that is then introduced into the soil have shifted some of the balance that these cycles already regulate.

Examples of Biogeochemical Cycles:

1. Carbon cycle - Carbon is arguably one of the most important elements on Earth, and is necessary for life. The carbon cycle describes the process by which organisms decay into the ground, returning carbon to the soil, which then becomes bottom-layer food sources in the food chain.

2. Oxygen cycle - This cycle describes the transfer of oxygen between the atmosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere, specifically in the use of oxygen by living beings in the biosphere drawn from the atmosphere, and the release of oxygen through photosynthesis.

3. Water cycle - This important biogeochemical cycle is so vital to sustainability that it is taught to students even in early elementary school. This cycle describes the accumulation of water on Earth, notably in lakes, oceans, and rivers, then the evaporation of water and the condensation of the water into clouds where it precipitates back into the bodies of water and the ground water supply.

4. Sedimentary cycles - While the previous examples were part of the gaseous cycles, the sedimentary cycles are more concerned with how elements are leeched out of the soil and rock layers, largely through the movement of water on the planet. Some of these elements are phosphorous and sulfur, but other elements accumulate or disperse in different places due to the movement of water through the water cycle or through rivers and erosion.

Related Links:
Science Examples