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How many elements in a hand-full of sand ?

  1. Mar 11, 2015 #1
    How many of the [ 92?] naturally occurring elements could be found in hand-full of sand ?.
    Including those only present at minuscule , but measurable , amounts.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 11, 2015 #2


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    Amost all of them, I would think.
  4. Mar 11, 2015 #3
    Thanks Russ. I recently read of someone claiming that all the the natural elements would be present , but I wasn't sure if that was true.
  5. Mar 11, 2015 #4
    I have read your post again and again and really have no idea what you would want to ask. What is [92?] ? Could you find any Documents about this yet ? No right ? o0)
  6. Mar 11, 2015 #5


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    Well, how many naturally occurring elements do YOU think there are ? He did put a question mark with it and 92 certainly sounds about right.
  7. Mar 11, 2015 #6


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    How many of the 92 naturally occurring elements could be found in hand-full of sand?

    Elements 93+ are unstable and considered not naturally occurring.
  8. Mar 11, 2015 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    Tc and Pr are unstable as well.... Tc is also considered man-made.

    I think there are only 81 stable elements: (everything below Bi, except for Tc and Pr). And that's going easy on Bi, which has a half-life of 1.9*10^10 Gyr....
  9. Mar 11, 2015 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    You're also going to have issues with Technetium, Promethium, Astatine, and Francium, which all are short-lived and rare. (Two of which were produced artificially). Neon is unlikely. I don't know what the concentration of platinum group elements in seawater is - I suspect that the sand contains no (or very little) iridium, for example.
  10. Mar 11, 2015 #9


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    Iridium is one of the rarest, but it is indeed found in the earth's crust (an over-abundance in some layers is how large metor impacts are identified), so I would assume that means in sand as well as dirt:
    Incidentally, I only count 78 elements there.

    This actually says 98 are found in nature, with some of the very rarer ones found as scarce decay products of naturally occurring uranium:
  11. Mar 11, 2015 #10
    If the handful of sand contains some air, [ e.g. dissolved in water present ] , it will probably include some neon.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  12. Mar 13, 2015 #11


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    Solubility of the noble gases in magma melts has been measured. Upon solidification, these elements will be encased within the crystal formation, and will be released either by diffusion to the surface, or weathering of the rock crystals into smaller structures.

    Since the surface crust has come from volcanic activity and outpouring of magma, analysis of the melts can reveal information of composition of the major elements(approx. 10) and trace( approx. 80) in surface rock, and fragments ( ie sand).

    Read more at, for an insight to the chemical composition of magma melts and factors affecting composition.

    One important aspect to consider is partitioning and diffusion between phases.
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