Imperial College London

Professor Mark Rehkämper

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Professor of Isotope Geochemistry



+44 (0)20 7594 6391markrehk Website




450Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





I have broad interests in the application of isotopic techniques for research in earth, planetary, environmental and life sciences. Invariably, the studies apply novel isotopic methods, particularly to explore the stable isotope geochemistry and biogeochemistry of trace metals. Such investigations were essentially unheard of 15 years ago but are now feasible due to recent analytical developments. These advances enable the tiny natural isotopic variations of trace metals to be resolved with confidence, and this has opened up many exciting avenues of research.

My research focuses on the acquisition and interpretation of isotopic data for trace elements in a diverse range of natural samples, from rocks and natural waters to meteorites and various biological materials. These investigations involve challenging laboratory work, which is conducted in the analytical facilities of the MAGIC Research Centre at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. Sample preparation (digestion of rocks, pre-concentration of elements from seawater, etc.) is thereby carried out in the state-of-the-art MAGIC clean room laboratories. The isotopic measurements require a precision and accuracy of 0.01% or better, and this can be achieved with the advanced mass spectrometers available in the MAGIC Labs.

Much of the laboratory-based research is carried out by students and post-doctoral researchers – if you are interested in such work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!

Research Fields

In cosmochemistry and solid earth geochemistry, my research explores isotopic variations of trace metals from stable isotope fractionation, the decay of extinct radionuclides, and nucleosynthetic isotope anomalies.

In marine geochemistry and paleoceanography, the studies also exploit various trace metal stable isotope systems. In addition, they explore natural and anthropogenic Pb isotope variations with unprecedented precision.

Novel investigations in biomedicine, environmental geochemistry, and agricultural sciences focus on variations in trace metal concentrations and stable isotope compositions.

Furthermore, I apply the techniques of stable isotope labeling and tracing to study the environmental behavior and fate of engineered nanoparticles, in support of improved risk assessments.

Finally, my research continues to drive the development of new techniques for isotopic analyses. Such work is never an end in itself but paves the way for novel applications of isotopic research, which aims to improve our understanding of natural systems, ranging from the early solar system to the human body.