Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel

Sulfur Cycle

  • Michael E. Böttcher
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_200


Biogeochemical sulfur cycle; Sulfate reduction and sulfide oxidation; Transformation of sulfur compounds


Sulfur. Chemical element that is one of the constituents of the Earth’s compartments and living organisms.  While the average sulfur content of the whole Earth is about 2%, the crust contains only about 0.07% sulfur (Brimblecombe, 2003).

Sulfur cycle. Biogeochemical system of biotic and abiotic transformations of inorganic and organic sulfur-bearing components, in and between, the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. Sulfur initially enters the biogeochemical cycle via volcanic activity and continental erosion. Today, the modern sulfur cycle is influenced by human activity. The Earth sulfur reservoir is assumed to have been essentially constant through time (Garrels and Lerman, 1984).

Assimilative sulfate reduction. Sulfate (SO42−) is reduced to organic R-SH groups by plants, algae, and fungi.

Dissimilative sulfur and sulfate reduction.Hydrogen...


Oxygen Isotope Hydrogen Sulfide Sulfide Oxidation Organic Sulfur Sulfur Cycle 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Böttcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Geochemistry & Stable Isotope Geochemistry Marine Geology SectionLeibniz Institute for Baltic Sea ResearchWarnemündeGermany