The sulfur cycle is one of many biochemical processes that occur in our nature. In this process, sulfur moves through the biotic and abiotic compartments of the Earth in various forms. It changes its chemical form along the way. Sulfur also moves between the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere just like carbon and nitrogen. Mother nature has its own way of managing the cycle but due to increasing pollution, we humans are disturbing it.
In school, we all learn about the water cycle or carbon cycle in some places. But we don’t get to know about sulfur more. It is important for us living being and we want to shed some light on this. It is found in life forms but also used in dangerous things such as explosives. In nature, this element exists in the form of Sulfate and Sulfide. It is present in the amino acids like cysteine, methionine and vitamin thiamine.
In simple, we can sum up the cycle in a few sentences. It is just an elementary understanding of this complex chain. Plants acquire their supply of nutrients from micro-organisms in the soil and water, which they convert into usable organic forms. Animals acquire sulfur by consuming plants and one another. Both plants and animals release sulfur back into the environment when they excrete. When they die the body decomposes and release sulfur as micro-organisms assimilate on them. Thus the cycles continue for living being
Simple Working mechanism
The above explanation of the cycle is very very simple and basic. This part of the cycle can form its own loop in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. It occurs when sulfur is consumed by plants and animals and then released again through decomposition.
Elemental sulfur is found around volcanoes and geothermal vents. When volcanoes erupt, massive quantities of sulfur, mostly in the form of sulfur dioxide, can be propelled into the atmosphere. Weathering of rocks and the production of volatile sulfur compounds in the ocean can also both lead to the release of sulfur.
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Increasingly, atmospheric sulfur is a result of human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels. Once in the air, sulfur dioxide reacts with oxygen and water to form sulfate salts and sulfuric acid. These compounds dissolve well in water and may return to Earth’s surface via both wet and dry deposition. There are also vast reservoirs in the planet’s crust as well as in oceanic sediments.
Along the cycle, sulfur moves through various forms and states. There are mineralization, oxidation, and reduction process going on to run this chain. It is a very important element for living being just like carbon. Sulfur is a very important element and it is found in many life forms. This nature is both delicate and intricate and it should be in balance all the time. But times are changing and our lives are impacting this delicate chain.
Pollution and Adverse Effects
Increased use of fossil fuels, industrial waste, pollution, uncontrolled chemical discharge on water bodies and land is causing imbalance. We are putting more and more untreated water in the environment which has sulfur. Everything needs to be in proper order and amount for our nature to work.
The increased sulfur is accumulating on rocks, oceans, soil, and air. Sometimes the Sulfur Dioxide in the air mixes with raindrops and form acid rain which is very harmful. It can destroy monuments, crops, structures and have detrimental effects on animals and other natural bodies. We can see that Sulfur is very important to us. It is in play all the time but it can also be dangerous sometimes. As the production and accumulation rate are very high and needs controlling for the sustainability of our environment.