Potassium: geological information

Potassium metal is far too reactive to be found uncombined in nature. The element is quite abundant and makes up about 1.5 % by weight of the earth's crust. Potassium is found extensively as potash (KOH). It is mined in Germany, USA, and elsewhere. Minerals such as sylvite (KCl), carnallite, and langbeinite, are found in ancient lake and sea beds. That as Saskatchewan in Canada contains about 10,000,000,000 tonnes of potassium chloride. Potassium is found in seawater, but in relatively small amounts compared to sodium.

Abundances of potassium 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 potassium 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 3000 100
Sun 4000 100
Meteorite (carbonaceous) 710000 370000
Crustal rocks 15000000 7800000
Sea water 416000 65800
Stream 2300 59
Human 2000000 320000


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.

WebElements Shop

WebElements now has a WebElements shop at which you can buy periodic table posters, mugs, T-shirts, games, fridge magnets, molecular models, and more.

Periodic Table fridge magnets Periodic Table fridge magnets
Buy our periodic table fridge magnets here

WebElements poster Periodic table t-shirts Periodic table mouse mats Molymod molecular model kits Chemistry educational resources

potassium atomic number