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An Overview of Isotope Geochemistry in Environmental Studies

  • D. PorcelliEmail author
  • M. Baskaran
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)

Abstract

Isotopes of many elements have been used in terrestrial, atmospheric, and aqueous environmental studies, providing powerful tracers and rate monitors. Short-lived nuclides that can be used to measure time are continuously produced from nuclear reactions involving cosmic rays, both within the atmosphere and exposed surfaces, and from decay of long-lived isotopes. Nuclear activities have produced various isotopes that can be used as atmospheric and ocean circulation tracers. Production of radiogenic nuclides from decay of long-lived nuclides generates widespread distinctive isotopic compositions in rocks and soils that can be used to identify the sources of ores and trace water circulation patterns. Variations in isotope ratios are also generated as isotopes are fractionated between chemical species, and the extent of fractionation can be used to identify the specific chemical processes involved. A number of different techniques are used to separate and measure isotopes of interest depending upon the half-life of the isotopes, the ratios of the stable isotopes of the element, and the overall abundance of the isotopes available for analysis. Future progress in the field will follow developments in analytical instrumentation and in the creative exploitation of isotopic tools to new applications.

Keywords

Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Alpha Spectrometry Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Secular Equilibrium 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesOxford UniversityOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of GeologyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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