The isotopic compositions of natural materials are determined by their parent reservoirs, on the one hand, and by fractionation mechanisms, on the other hand. Under the right conditions, fractionation represents isotope partitioning at thermodynamic equilibrium. In this case, the isotopic equilibrium constant depends on temperature, and reflects the slight change of free energy between two phases when they contain different isotopes of the same chemical element. The practical foundation of the theory of mass-dependent stable isotope fractionation dates back to the mid-twentieth century, when Bigeleisen and Mayer (1947) and Urey (1947) proposed a formalism that takes advantage of the Teller–Redlich...

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