Trace metal stable isotope biogeochemistry
Trace metal stable isotope biogeochemistry is the study of the distribution and relative abundances of trace metal isotopes in order to better understand the biological, geological, and chemical processes occurring in an environment. Trace metals are elements such as iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc that occur at low levels in the environment. Trace metals are critically important in biology and are involved in many processes that allow organisms to grow and generate energy. In addition, trace metals are constituents of numerous rocks and minerals, thus serving as an important component of the geosphere. Both stable and radioactive isotopes of trace metals exist, but this article focuses on those that are stable. Isotopic variations of trace metals in samples are used as isotopic fingerprints to elucidate the processes occurring in an environment and answer questions relating to biology, geochemistry, and medicine.