Phosphorus: geological information

Phosphorus is never found as the free element but is widely distributed in many minerals. Phosphate rock, (apatite, impure calcium phosphate), is an important source of the element. Large deposits are found in Morocco, in Russia, and in the USA.

Abundances of phosphorus in various environments

In this table of abundances, values are given in units of ppb (parts per billion; 1 billion = 109), both in terms of weight and in terms of numbers of atoms. Values for abundances are difficult to determine with certainty, so all values should be treated with some caution, especially so for the less common elements. Local concentrations of any element can vary from those given here an orders of magnitude or so and values in various literature sources for less common elements do seem to vary considerably.

Abundances for phosphorus in a number of different environments. Use the links in the location column for definitions, literature sources, and visual representations in many different styles (one of which is shown below)
Location ppb by weight ppb by atoms
Universe 7000 300
Sun 7000 300
Meteorite (carbonaceous) 1100000 700000
Crustal rocks 1000000 700000
Sea water 70 14
Stream 20 0.6
Human 11000000 2200000


Log abundance (by atom numbers) in our sun

The chart above shows the log of the abundance (on a parts per billion scale) of the elements by atom number in our sun. Notice the "sawtooth" effect where elements with even atomic numbers tend to be more strongly represented than those with odd atomic numbers. This shows up best using the "Bar chart" option on the chart.

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phosphorus atomic number