The rigid, top layer of the Earth is called the lithosphere. It consists of the Earth’s crust and the top-most part of the mantle. Most geological activities that affect the Earth take place on the lithosphere. It is the most rigid of all of Earth’s layers. The lithosphere consists of oceanic and continental lithospheres. Oceanic lithosphere consists of Oceanic crust which forms the floors of seas and oceans while continental lithosphere consists of continental crust made of land masses. The Earth’s crust is important as it supports human and plant life and contains elements and such as aluminum which facilitate technological development. The most abundant elements in the Earth's crust are presented below:
The Most Abundant Elements In The Earth's Crust
Oxygen - 46.6%
Oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth's crust. Oxygen makes up 467,100 ppm (parts per million) of the Earth's crust, or 46.6%. It exists as a major compound of the silicate minerals where it combines with other elements. It also exists as a compound in carbonates and phosphates. Oxygen has industrial, medical, and commercial purposes. It is used with acetylene to cut and weld metals. It is used in hospitals to ease respiratory disease and can also be used to manufacture explosives among other numerous uses.
Silicon - 27.7%
Silicon is the second most common element present in the crust with an abundance of 276,900 ppm. It exists as a compound in the mantle and the crust. In the crust, it exists combined with oxygen to form silicate minerals. It is found in the sand which is an abundant and easily accessible resource on Earth. Silicon is also recovered from quartzite, mica, and talc. From silicon, we get silicones used in hydraulic fluids, electric insulators, and lubricants among others. Solid silicon is majorly used as a semiconductor especially in computer hardware. It is used to make transistors in the electronic industry. Silicon is used in the aluminum industry in the making of aluminum alloys. It is used in the production of ceramics, glass, cosmetics, insecticides, some types of steel, and pharmaceutical products.
Aluminum - 8.1%
At 80,700 ppm, aluminum is the third most abundant element in Earth's crust. Aluminum does not exist as a lone element, and it is found as a compound. Abundant compounds of Aluminum include aluminum oxide, aluminum hydroxide, and potassium aluminum sulfate. Aluminum is extracted from its compounds largely through the Bayer and Hall-Heroult processes. The element ideal because of its light weight and Aluminum alloys are extensively used to make utensils foils, packaging materials. It is used in the manufacture of parts of automobiles, rockets, and machinery.
Iron - 5%
Iron exists in the earth’s crust, and its composition is 50,500 ppm. Iron extracted in the form of iron ores existing in iron oxide forms such as hematite and magnetite. Blast furnaces are used to recover iron from the iron ores. Iron has many extensive applications such as the making of steel. Iron is also used to make utensils and kitchen appliances. It is also used to make cast iron and wrought iron which is extensively utilized in many industries. Iron element will always react with water and oxygen and the surface of iron is ordinarily lustrous and silvery gray, but it has a tendency of oxidizing in the open air to produce hydrated iron oxide commonly known as rust. In its purest form iron is relatively soft and is hardened and strengthened in the smelting process by adding a small percentage of carbon. The addition of carbon of between 0.002% and 2.1% will result in steel that could be 1000 times harder compared to pure iron.
Excessive Mining Leads To Environmental Degradation
Other abundant elements include: calcium (36,500 ppm), sodium (27,500 ppm), potassium (25,800 ppm), magnesium (20,800 ppm), titanium (6,200 ppm) and hydrogen (1,400 ppm). Mining involves the use of massive machinery on the earth’s surface. These types of machinery leave open pits on land and disrupt the fragile ecological system. The processes used in the mining of elements releases harmful by-products such as heavy, toxic metals to marine and land life. Excessive mining, therefore, leads to environmental degradation.
What are the Most Common Elements in the Earth's Crust?
Oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and accounts for about 46%. Silicone is the next most abundant element at 27.7%, while aluminum accounts for 8.1%. Other elements in the Earth's crust include iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, titanium, and hydrogen.
The Most Abundant Elements In The Earth's Crust
|Rank||Element||Abundance in crust (ppm)|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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