Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel

Sulfur Isotopes

  • Michael E. Böttcher
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_131

Synonyms

Radioactive sulfur isotopes; Stable sulfur isotopes

Definition

Sulfur. A chemical element that is one of the constituents of living organisms and of the Earth.

Isotopes. Isotopes are different nuclear forms of the same element. For a given element, a constant number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus correspond to different isotopes. Sulfur of standard atomic mass 32.065 u has 18 isotopes, most of which are not stable and undergo radioactive decay.

Stable sulfur isotopes. Stable isotopes are isotopes that do not decay within an experimentally observable time frame. Stable isotopes have essentially the same chemical characteristics and, therefore, their behavior is chemically almost identical. The different masses lead to isotope fractionation in chemical, physical, and especially biological reactions. Four stable isotopes occur in nature: 32S (95.02%), 33S (0.75%), 34S (4.21%), and 36S (0.02%) (Hoefs, 2008). Typically, the ratio of the two most...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Böttcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Geochemistry & Stable Isotope Geochemistry Marine Geology SectionLeibniz Institute for Baltic Sea ResearchWarnemündeGermany