- © 2017 Mineralogical Society of America
Traditional stable isotope geochemistry involves isotopes of light elements such as H, C, N, O, and S, which are measured predominantly by gas-source mass spectrometry (Valley et al. 1986; Valley and Cole 2001). Even though Li isotope geochemistry was developed in 1980s based on thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS) (Chan 1987), the real flourish of so-called non-traditional stable isotope geochemistry was made possible by the development of multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS) (Halliday et al. 1995; Marechal et al. 1999). Since then, isotopes of both light (e.g., Li, Mg) and heavy (e.g., Tl, U) elements have been routinely measured at a precision that is high enough to resolve natural variations (Fig. 1). The publication of RIMG volume 55 (Geochemistry of Non-Traditional Stable Isotopes) in 2004 was the first extensive review of Non-Traditional Stable Isotopes summarizing the advances in the field up to 2003 (Johnson et al. 2004). When compared to traditional stable isotopes, the non-traditional stable isotopes have several distinctive geochemical features: 1) as many of these elements are trace elements, their concentrations vary widely in different geological reservoirs; 2) these elements range from highly volatile (e.g., Zn and K) to refractory (e.g., Ca and Ti); 3) many of these elements are redox-sensitive; 4) many of them are biologically active; 5) the bonding environments, especially for the metal elements, are different from those of H, C, N, O and S; and finally, 6) many of these elements have high atomic numbers and more than two stable isotopes. These features make the different elements susceptible to different fractionation mechanisms, and by extension, make them unique tracers of different cosmochemical, geological and biological processes, as highlighted throughout this volume.