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The History, Relevance, and Applications of the Periodic System in Geochemistry

Vance, D; Little, S; (2019) The History, Relevance, and Applications of the Periodic System in Geochemistry. In: Mingos, M, (ed.) The Periodic Table I: Historical Development and Essential Features. (pp. 111-156). Springer: Cham, Switzerland. Green open access

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Abstract

Geochemistry is a discipline in the earth sciences concerned with understanding the chemistry of the Earth and what that chemistry tells us about the processes that control the formation and evolution of Earth materials and the planet itself. The periodic table and the periodic system, as developed by Mendeleev and others in the nineteenth century, are as important in geochemistry as in other areas of chemistry. In fact, systemisation of the myriad of observations that geochemists make is perhaps even more important in this branch of chemistry, given the huge variability in the nature of Earth materials – from the Fe-rich core, through the silicate-dominated mantle and crust, to the volatile-rich ocean and atmosphere. This systemisation started in the eighteenth century, when geochemistry did not yet exist as a separate pursuit in itself. Mineralogy, one of the disciplines that eventually became geochemistry, was central to the discovery of the elements, and nineteenth-century mineralogists played a key role in this endeavour. Early “geochemists” continued this systemisation effort into the twentieth century, particularly highlighted in the career of V.M. Goldschmidt. The focus of the modern discipline of geochemistry has moved well beyond classification, in order to invert the information held in the properties of elements across the periodic table and their distribution across Earth and planetary materials, to learn about the physicochemical processes that shaped the Earth and other planets, on all scales. We illustrate this approach with key examples, those rooted in the patterns inherent in the periodic law as well as those that exploit concepts that only became familiar after Mendeleev, such as stable and radiogenic isotopes.

Type: Book chapter
Title: The History, Relevance, and Applications of the Periodic System in Geochemistry
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/430_2019_44
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/430_2019_44
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Element classification, Element discovery, Geochemistry, Periodic law, Periodic table, Radiogenic isotopes, Stable isotopes
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081793
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