Isotope fractionation by thermal diffusion in silicate melts

Daniel J. Lacks, Gaurav Goel, Charles J. Bopp, James A. Van Orman, Charles E. Lesher, Craig C. Lundstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Isotopes fractionate in thermal gradients, but there is little quantitative understanding of this effect in complex fluids. Here we present results of experiments and molecular dynamics simulations on silicate melts. We show that isotope fractionation arises from classical mechanical effects, and that a scaling relation based on Chapman-Enskog theory predicts the behavior seen in complex fluids without arbitrary fitting parameters. The scaling analysis reveals that network forming elements (Si and O) fractionate significantly less than network modifiers (e.g., Mg, Ca, Fe, Sr, Hf, and U).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number065901
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 10 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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