Applications of Stable Mercury Isotopes to Biogeochemistry

  • Joel D. BlumEmail author
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


The application of mercury (Hg) stable isotopes to problems in environmental chemistry is relatively new, but is a rapidly expanding field of investigation. Interest in this isotope system has been stimulated by concerns regarding the global distribution of mercury, its tendency to be methylated and bioaccumulated in the environment, and the severe health affects associated with this toxic metal. Mercury displays mass-dependent isotope fractionation during most biotic and abiotic chemical transformations. Additionally, mercury displays mass-independent fractionation, mainly during photochemical radical pair reactions, wherein the reactivity of odd and even mass number isotopes differs. The combination of mass-dependent and mass-independent fractionation provides a new and much needed probe into the reaction pathways and history of mercury in biogeochemical systems, and also provides an isotopic fingerprint of various mercury sources to the environment.


Isotope Fractionation Yellowfin Tuna Photochemical Reduction Trophic Transfer Coastal Fish 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I wish to thank all of the past and present members of my Hg isotope research group for their persistence, dedication and intellectual contributions to helping develop an important new isotopic system. I also thank J. Sonke and an anonymous reviewer for providing helpful comments that improved the manuscript. This chapter was written while the author was a CIRES visiting fellow at the University of Colorado, and this program is gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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