Group 16 Elements Of Modern Periodic Table

The group 16 elements of modern periodic table consist of 5 elements oxygen, sulphur, selenium, tellurium and polonium. The elements in this group are also known as the chalcogens or the ore-forming elements because many elements can be extracted from the sulphide or oxide ores.

Group 16 elements- - The Chalcogens

Oxygen is abundantly found on the earth. Estimating the proportions of different types of atoms found in the universe, oxygen was claimed as the fourth abundant element after hydrogen, helium, and neon. It constitutes about 89% of water, 46% of the earth crust and 20 % of the air.

Period Element Symbol Atomic Number Electronic Configuration
2 Oxygen O 8 [He] 2s2p4
3 Sulphur S 16 [Ne] 3s3p4
4 Selenium Se 34 [Ar] 3d10 4s4p4
5 Tellurium Te 52 [Kr] 4d10 5s5p4
6 Polonium Po 84 [Xe]4f14 5d10 6s6p4


The chemical symbol for oxygen is given as O. It is a colourless and odourless gas used in the respiration process by humans, which is converted into carbon dioxide. Oxygen exists as a diatomic molecule (O2). Oxygen is also found as a triatomic molecule (O3) in traces, it is known as ozone. Oxygen combines readily with many elements. During the combination with some elements, the evolution of heat energy takes place, this process is known as combustion.

To read more about the types of combustion click on combustion types.


Sulphur is denoted by the symbol S. It is a non-metal which ranks ninth on the basis of cosmic abundance. About 1 atom in every 20,000-30,000 atoms is a sulphur atom. Sulphur is found in the combined state as well as in the free state. About 0.09 % of sulphur is found in seawater in the form of sulphates. The meteorite contains 12 % of sulphur, a large amount of sulphur is found from the underground deposits of pure sulphur present in dome-like structures. Here sulphur is formed by the action of anaerobic bacteria on the sulphate minerals such as gypsum.


Selenium is rarer than oxygen or sulphur. It is found in the free state as well as in the combined state with heavy metals (as lead, silver, or mercury) in a few minerals. Grey metallic form of the selenium is the most stable form of the element under normal conditions.


Tellurium is a chemical element having atomic number 52 and has the properties between metals and non-metals. It is one of the rarest stable elements found in the earth’s crust. It is often found in a free state and in compounds with elements such as copper, lead, silver or gold.


It is the rarest element among the group 16 elements. It is a radioactive element. Polonium is sometimes used in scientific applications for alpha radiation.

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