Chemistry

When rocks start ‘talking’: The science of geo-chemical fingerprinting

Geochemistry can get rocks to ‘talk’ about how they were formed, and when (credit: http://www.crsbooks.net)

We have all heard of DNA fingerprinting, where the DNA in a person’s blood is identified, for example, at the scene of a crime, or on a victim, leading to a criminal prosecution.

But, what exactly is a geochemical fingerprint? Well, the same principle applies, but this time it concerns rocks. The geochemistry of a rock can provide information about how it formed, when, and what has happened to it since.

It can also be used for a variety of non-geological purposes, such as, for example, determining where a neo-lithic person lived from the examination of the carbon and oxygen isotopes in their teeth enamel.

This provides clues as to what they ate, and what water they drank.

LISTEN: Interview with Professor Balz Kamber

Broadcast on Science Spinning on 103.2 Dublin City FM on 12-04-2012

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