Strontium is a chemical element with the symbol Sr and the atomic number 38. An alkaline earth metal, strontium is a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element that is highly reactive chemically. The metal turns yellow when exposed to air. It occurs naturally in the minerals celestine and strontianite. The 90Sr isotope is present in radioactive fallout and has a half-life of 28.90 years. Both strontium and strontianite are named after Strontian, a village in Scotland near which the mineral was first discovered.


Strontium is a grey/silvery metal that is softer than calcium and even more reactive in water, with which strontium reacts on contact to produce strontium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. It burns in air to produce both strontium oxide and strontium nitride, but since it does not react with nitrogen below 380°C it will only form the oxide spontaneously at room temperature. It should be kept under a liquid hydrocarbon such as mineral oil or kerosene to prevent oxidation; freshly exposed strontium metal rapidly turns a yellowish color with the formation of the oxide. Finely powdered strontium metal will ignite spontaneously in air at room temperature. Volatile strontium salts impart a crimson color to flames, and these salts are used in pyrotechnics and in the production of flares.

Natural strontium is a mixture of four radiostable isotopes, 84Sr (0.56%), 86Sr (9.86%), 87Sr (7.0%) and 88Sr (82.58%). Only 87Sr is radiogenic; it is produced by decay from the radioactive alkali metal 87Rb. Thus, there are two sources of 87Sr in any material: that formed in stars along with 84Sr, 86Sr and 88Sr, as well as that formed by radioactive decay of 87Rb. The ratio 87Sr/86Sr is the parameter typically reported in geologic investigations; ratios in minerals and rocks have values ranging from about 0.7 to greater than 4.0. Because strontium has an atomic radius similar to that of calcium, it readily substitutes for Ca in minerals.

Sixteen unstable isotopes are known to exist. Of greatest importance are 90Sr with a half-life of 28.78 years and 89Sr with a half-life of 50.5 days.


The base value of each unit of ranges between 6 and 12Ð per unit, with up to 3 units being found at any one time.

Presence on Mars: Rare

Martian Minerals
Group 1 | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5 | Group 6
Group 2 |Argon | Bromine | Cadmium | Gallium | Germanium | Gold | Helium III | Krypton | Molybdenum | Neon | Niobium | Nitrogen | |Palladium | Rhodium | Rubidium | Ruthenium | Scandium | Selenium | Silver | Strontium | Technetium | Titanium | Vanadium | |Yttrium | Zirconium|

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