- © 2008 by the Mineralogical Society of America
The cycling of phosphorus, a biocritical element in short supply in nature, is an important Earth system process. Variations in the phosphorus cycle have occurred in the past. For example, the rapid uplift of the Himalayan-Tibet Plateau increased chemical weathering, which led to enhanced input of phosphorus to the oceans. This drove the late Miocene “biogenic bloom.” Additionally, phosphorus is redistributed on glacial timescales, resulting from the loss of the substantial continental margin sink for reactive P during glacial sea-level lowstands. The modern terrestrial phosphorus cycle is dominated by agriculture and human activity. The natural riverine load of phosphorus has doubled due to increased use of fertilizers, deforestation and soil loss, and sewage sources. This has led to eutrophication of lakes and coastal areas, and will continue to have an impact for several thousand years based on forward modeling of human activities.