Trace-Elements Systematics of Beryllium in Terrestrial Materials

Jeffrey G. Ryan, University of South Florida


Although often studied as key constituent in minerals, the low mass element (Z = 4; M = 9.0012182 amu) beryllium is most commonly encountered as a very low abundance trace metal in rocks and fluids. In terms of atomic structure and valence state, Be is affiliated with alkaline earth elements; but geologically and chemically beryllium shows greater affinities to the major cations Al, Si, and Mn, and the lithophile trace elements Nd and Zr. Low beryllium abundances prevented the precise measurements of Be contents in rocks and fluids until relatively recently. Intense geochemical interest in the cosmogenic radioisotope 10Be has led to advances in the measurement of stable beryllium. High quality Be data now exist for a variety of natural materials found at or near the Earth’s surface. We have a good general understanding of the distribution of beryllium in the solid earth, and in surficial systems. New data for both mineral/melt and mineral/fluid partitioning of beryllium offer the possibility of a detailed assessment of the geochemical behavior of Be in the Earth’s major geologic environments.