Natural and Anthropogenic Cd Isotope Variations

  • M. RehkämperEmail author
  • F. Wombacher
  • T. J. Horner
  • Z. Xue
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


Cadmium is a transition metal with eight naturally occurring isotopes that have atomic mass numbers of between 106 and 116. The large Cd isotope anomalies of meteorites have been subject to investigation since the 1970s, but improvements in instrumentation and techniques have more recently enabled routine studies of the smaller stable Cd isotope fractionations that characterize various natural and anthropogenic terrestrial materials. Whilst the current database is still comparatively small, pilot studies have identified two predominant mechanisms that routinely generate Cd isotope effects – partial evaporation/condensation and biological utilization. Processes that involve evaporation and condensation appear to be largely responsible for the Cd isotope fractionations of up to 1‰ (for 114Cd/110Cd) that have been determined for industrial Cd emissions, for example from ore refineries. Cadmium isotope measurements hence hold significant promise for tracing anthropogenic sources of this highly toxic metal in the environment. The even larger Cd isotope fractionations that have been identified in the oceans (up to 4‰ for 114Cd/110Cd) are due to biological uptake and utilization of dissolved seawater Cd. This finding confirms previous work, which identified Cd as an essential marine micronutrient that exhibits a phosphate-like distribution in the oceans. The marine Cd isotope fractionations are of particular interest, as they can be used to study micronutrient cycling and its impact on ocean productivity. In addition, they may also inform on past changes in marine nutrient utilization and how these are linked to global climate, if suitable archives of seawater Cd isotope compositions can be identified.


Isotope Fractionation Carbonaceous Chondrite Stable Isotope Fractionation Magnetic Isotope Effect Double Spike 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Wafa Abouchami and Steve Galer from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz (Germany) are thanked for their efforts to identify a suitable common Cd isotope reference material and their encouragement to present data relative to the NIST standard in this manuscript. Constructive formal reviews by Tom Bullen and an anonymous referee as well as the editorial efforts of Mark Baskaran are gratefully acknowledged. F.W. thanks Carsten Münker, Stefan Weyer and Ambre Luguet for support of additional Cd isotope analyses of reference materials and Cd metal samples in the Neptune lab in Bonn and Steve Galer for discussions. M.R. is grateful for helpful advice and contributions provided by Maria Schönbächler.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Rehkämper
    • 1
    Email author
  • F. Wombacher
    • 2
  • T. J. Horner
    • 3
  • Z. Xue
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth Science and EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Institut für Geologie und MineralogieUniversität zu KölnKölnGermany
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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