Stable Isotopes of Transition and Post-Transition Metals as Tracers in Environmental Studies

  • Thomas D. Bullen
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


The transition and post-transition metals, which include the elements in Groups 3–12 of the Periodic Table, have a broad range of geological and biological roles as well as industrial applications and thus are widespread in the environment. Interdisciplinary research over the past decade has resulted in a broad understanding of the isotope systematics of this important group of elements and revealed largely unexpected variability in isotope composition for natural materials. Significant kinetic and equilibrium isotope fractionation has been observed for redox sensitive metals such as iron, chromium, copper, molybdenum and mercury, and for metals that are not redox sensitive in nature such as cadmium and zinc. In the environmental sciences, the isotopes are increasingly being used to understand important issues such as tracing of metal contaminant sources and fates, unraveling metal redox cycles, deciphering metal nutrient pathways and cycles, and developing isotope biosignatures that can indicate the role of biological activity in ancient and modern planetary systems.


Stable Isotope Suspend Particulate Matter Isotope Fractionation Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Stable Isotope Composition 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas D. Bullen
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyMenlo ParkUSA

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