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January 16, 2011

Elemental Abundance in the Earth's Crust


Abundance (atom fraction) of the chemical elements in Earth's upper continental crust as a function of atomic number. The rarest elements in the crust (shown in yellow) are not the heaviest, but are rather the siderophile (iron-loving) elements in the Goldschmidt classification of elements. These have been depleted by being relocated deeper into the Earth's core. Their abundance in meteoroids materials is relatively higher. Additionally, tellurium and selenium have been depleted from the crust due to formation of volatile hydrides.

Wikipedia on elemental abundance in the earth's crust

From the table below we can see that currently civilization is using 8.6 billion tons/year of carbon materials and 1.2 billion tons of iron.

Global steel production is forecast to have rebounded back to nearly 1.4 billion tons in 2010 and should be at 1.6 billion tons in 2014

Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade.

World cement usage is forecast to be 3.1 billion tons for 2011, 3.2 billion tons for 2012 and 3.5 billion tons for 2013

Cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate), with small quantities of other materials (such as clay) to 1450 °C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination, whereby a molecule of carbon dioxide is liberated from the calcium carbonate to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which is then blended with the other materials that have been included in the mix . The resulting hard substance, called 'clinker', is then ground with a small amount of gypsum into a powder to make 'Ordinary Portland Cement', the most commonly used type of cement

There are four chief minerals present in a Portland cement grain: tricalcium silicate (Ca3SiO5), dicalcium silicate (Ca2SiO4), tricalcium aluminate (Ca3Al2O5) and calcium aluminoferrite (Ca4AlnFe2-nO7). . A typical example of cement contains 50–70% C3S, 15–30% C2S, 5–10% C3A, 5–15% C4AF, and 3–8% other additives or minerals (such as oxides of calcium and magnesium). It is the hydration of the calcium silicate, aluminate, and aluminoferrite minerals that causes the hardening, or setting, of cement

Materials used above 1 billion tons/year

carbon 8.6 billion tons/year
iron 1.4 billion tons/year
cement 3.1 billion tons/year (calcium carbonate)

Materials used above 100 million tons/year

Phosphorous 153,000,000 Tons/Year
calcium 112,000,000 tons/year
oxygen 100,000,000 tons/year


Materials used above 10 million tons/year

Sulfur 54,000,000 Tons/Year
hydrogen 50,000,000 tons/year
nitrogen 44,000,000 tons/year
potassium 36,000,000 tons/year
aluminum 30,000,000 tons/year
copper 15,000,000 tons/year
zinc 12,500,000 tons/year



ELEMENT          AT#    %WEIGHT   PRESENT USE UNITS/NOTES         
Oxygen             8      46.60   100,000,000 MT/y                
Silicon           14      27.72     3,880,000 MT/y                
Aluminum          13       8.13    30,000,000 MT/y                
Iron              26       5.00 1,200,000,000 MT/y                
Calcium           20       3.63   112,000,000 MT/y                
Sodium            11       2.83
Potassium         19       2.59    36,000,000 MT/y (1000 ppm)     
Magnesium         12       2.09
Titanium          22       0.44        99,000 MT/y                
Hydrogen           1       0.14    50,000,000 MT/y                
Phosphorus        15       0.12   153,000,000 MT/y                
Manganese         25       0.10
Fluorine           9       0.08
Sulfur            16       0.05    54,000,000 MT/y                
Chlorine          17       0.05
Carbon             6       0.03 8,600,000,000 MT/y  (480-1800 ppm)
Rubidium          37       0.03
Vanadium          23       0.01
Chromium          24       0.01
Copper            29       0.01    15,000,000 MT/y                
Nitrogen           7      0.005    44,000,000 MT/y                
Boron              5      trace
Cobalt            27      trace
Zinc              30     79 ppm    12,500,000 MT/y                
Lithium                  20 ppm        39,000 MT/y         
Selenium          34      trace
Molybdenum        42      trace
Bromine                   3 ppm       330,000 MT/y         
Tin               50    2.2 ppm       165,000 MT/y                
Iodine            53    1.2 ppm        80,000 MT/y                
Uranium                 1.8 ppm        56,000 MT/y         
Silver                 0.08 ppm        23,000 MT/y         
Gold                  .0031 ppm         2,800 MT/y

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