Isotope fractionation describes processes that affect the relative abundance of isotopes. Normally, the focus is on stable isotopes of the same element. Isotopic fractionation in the natural environment can be measured by isotope analysis yielding an important tool to understand natural systems. For example, biochemical processes cause a fluctuation in the amount of carbon isotope ratios incorporated into a biological being. The difference between the true amount of carbon and the amount in the plant is known as isotope fractionation.
There are four types of isotope fractionation, of which the first two are normally most important:
- Equilibrium fractionation
- Kinetic fractionation
- Transient kinetic isotope fractionation
- Mass-independent fractionation
- Faure G., Mensing T.M. (2004), Isotopes: Principles and Applications (John Wiley & Sons).
- Hoefs J., 2004. Stable Isotope Geochemistry (Springer Verlag).
- Sharp Z., 2006. Principles of Stable Isotope Geochemistry (Prentice Hall).
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