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What is a biogeochemical cycle?

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A biogeochemical cycle is a cycle that involves the transformation and transport of matter in several areas of the Earth. These include the biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and the atmosphere.

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Some of the major biogeochemical cycles on the Earth include the sedimentary, phosphorous, sulphur, gaseous, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrological cycles. Sedimentary cycles involve the transportation of matter through the ground and water. The phosphorous cycle is one example of the slowest of sedimentary cycles. It involves the movement of phosphorus through the soil and ground, but can also take place in the atmosphere. The sulphur cycle transports matter through wind, water and volcanic eruptions. When sulphur exists as a compound, it is transported from the ocean to the atmosphere and to the ocean through rainfall and streams.

Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles are all examples of gaseous biogeochemical cycles. Carbon is one of the most essential gases for life on Earth. Carbon dioxide and methane gases control the heat on the Earth. Nitrogen is the most abundant element on the Earth and is essential to all plant life.

The oxygen cycle moves oxygen through the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere. Plants perform photosynthesis to drive the oxygen cycle. The hydrological cycle is also essential for all life on Earth.

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