Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs

2011 Edition
| Editors: David Hopley

Stable Isotopes and Trace Elements

  • Michael K. Gagan
  • Nerilie J. Abram
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2639-2_27


 Coral paleoclimatology; Geochemical tracers; Proxies


Coral geochemistry: The science of studying variations in the stable isotopic composition and trace element impurities in the calcium carbonate of coral skeletal material. The stable isotope and trace element geochemistry of coral carbonate reflects changes in the environmental conditions the coral is living in and/or the physiology of the coral.

Stable isotope: Two or more forms of a chemical element that have a different atomic mass. The isotopic forms of a particular element differ in the number of neutrons contained in the atom’s nucleus. The term stable isotope refers specifically to the isotopic forms of a chemical element that do not undergo radioactive decay.

Trace element: Any element that is present in minute quantities, often substituting within a compound or crystal structure for a more abundant element that behaves in a similar fashion chemically.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael K. Gagan
    • 1
  • Nerilie J. Abram
    • 2
  1. 1.Research School of Earth SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.British Antarctic SurveyCambridgeUK