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  • Publication Date: 2017-05-10
    Description: To satisfy the increasing demand for food, water, raw materials, and energy resources, we need to understand the fundamental interactions between the solid earth and its surface. These interactions shape landscapes and provide the basis for sustaining ecosystems. The research field of metal stable isotope geochemistry that emerged over the past two decades has substantial potential to contribute towards this understanding. Advances in mass spectrometry facilitated precise measurements of stable isotope ratios of metal and metalloid elements (e g., Li, B, Mg, Si, Ca, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, Sr, Mo, etc). As novel biogeochemical process tracers they now begin to complement the traditional stable isotope systems (H, C, O, N, S). Here, we present a brief introduction in the Earth surface weathering reactor and show how stable isotopes trace the dissolution of rocks by interaction with fluids and subsequent soil formation. Also, the uptake of nutrients into plants produces a characteristic isotope fingerprint. We illustrate the isotopic legacy of processes initiated at the nanometer scale and propagated to the global scale. Combining isotope studies of modern ecosystems with studies of the Earth’s past surfaces as disclosed from geological archives will enable new discoveries on the evolution of our planet millions of years back and into its future. Exploiting this ‘new periodic table’ promises new insights into the nature of a multitude of reactions, thereby bridging several disciplines such as geochemistry, geology, biology, hydrology and life sciences.
    Language: German
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