Skip to main content


Biogeochemical Dynamics

What are Biogeochemistry and Biogeochemical Dynamics?

Biogeochemistry is the study of biological controls on the chemistry of the environment (air, water, and soil) and the geochemical regulation of ecosystems, and is a central focus in the study of ecosystems. Biogeochemical dynamics refers to interactions between the biological, geological, and chemical components of the Earth's environment. These dynamics are influenced by organisms and their physical surroundings, including soils, sediments, rocks, water, and air.

The Odyssey of the Atom ...

Leopold (1949) describes the biogeochemistry of phosphorus:

[The atom] had marked time in the limestone ledge since the Paleozoic seas covered the land. Time, to an atom locked in a rock, does not pass. The break came when a bur-oak root nosed down a crack and began prying and sucking. In the flash of a century the rock decayed, and [the atom] was pulled out and up into the world of living things. [The atom] helped build a flower, which became an acorn, which fattened a deer, which fed an Indian, all in a single year. ... When the Indian took his leave of the prairie, [the atom] moldered briefly underground, only to embark on a second trip through the blood stream of the land. ... All routines come to an end. This one ended with a prairie fire, which reduced the prairie plants to smoke, gas, and ashes. ... Between each of his excursions through the biota, [the atom] lay in the soil and was carried by the rains, inch by inch, downhill [and eventually to the sea]. ... For every atom lost to the sea, the prairie pulls another out of the decaying rocks.

Excerpted from A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, 1949 [3]

Biogeochemical Cycles

  • carbon cycle diagram
  • USGS Water Cycle
  • biogeochemical cycle diagram
  • Nitrogen Cycle
  • Phosphorus Cycle


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2015. biogeochemical cycle. In Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2015. phosphorus cycle. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from
  3. Leopold, A. 1949. A Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press, USA.
  4. Pidwirny, M. 2006. The Nitrogen Cycle. Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition.
  5. Riebeek, H. 2011. The Carbon Cycle. NASA Earth Observatory.
  6. USGS. 2015. The Water Cycle.