Thermal-gradient-induced non-mass-dependent isotope fractionation

Document Type


Publication Date



Isotope fractionation resulting from gas diffusion along a thermal gradient has always been considered entirely mass-dependent. A previous report, however, showed that non-mass-dependent 17O anomalies can be generated simply by subjecting O2 gas in an enclosure to a thermal gradient. To explore the underlying mechanism for the anomalies, we tested the effect of gas pressure, duration of experiment, and geometry of the apparatus on the 17O anomalies for O2 as well as on the 33S or 36S anomalies for SF6 gas. The results are consistent with our proposal that a previously ignored nuclear spin effect on gas diffusion coefficient may be largely responsible for generating the observed anomalies. This discovery provides clues to some of the puzzling non-mass-dependent isotope signatures encountered in experiments and in nature, including the triple oxygen or quadruple sulfur isotope heterogeneity in the solar system. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.