1979 Edition


  • J. Robert Dodd
Reference work entry

Biogeochemistry can be defined as the study of the chemical processes and products related to the activity of ancient organisms. Biogeochemists are especially interested in fossilizable products produced by ancient organisms and in the conditions under which they were produced. One branch of biogeochemistry is concerned with organic compounds in sediments and fossils, and particularly in using these compounds as chemical fossils or evidence of ancient life (Eglington and Murphy, 1969). Of special interest is the search for biologically produced compounds in very old rocks as evidence of some of the earliest forms of life (see  Precambrian Life). Another branch of biogeochemistry is concerned with the chemistry of mineralized products of ancient organisms. The three chemical attributes of mineralized fossils that have received the most intensive study are mineral composition, trace chemistry, and isotopic composition.

The factors controlling these three properties may often be a complex...

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© Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. 1979

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  • J. Robert Dodd

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