Decay Processes

Stable Isotope Analysis: Predictive Power and Challenges

Abstract The presence of stable isotopes, i.e., elements with extra (or missing) neutrons which do not decay over time, provides a strong tool for tracing of animal activities in both the near and distant past. Quantification of these stable isotopes using mass spectrometry, followed by mathematical analysis, allows scientists to

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The Biochemical Basis of Fossilization

In exceptional cases, organism remains may fossilize, persisting in sediment and retaining morphological features across great lengths of time. Eluding complete biological breakdown, these special artifacts of nature are evidence of previous life on Earth and archive the planet’s diverse history. Here, we investigate several environmental conditions which influence fossilization,…

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The Mechanics and Rates of Organic Matter Decomposition

Despite their differences, living organisms find common ground when their time comes to an end. While life activities cease, the spirit of the afterlife continues in the form of decay – a critical mechanism by which an ecosystem’s nutrients and energy resources are recycled. Within nature’s ecosystems, the important task…

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