Mercury: isotope data

- Mercury isotopes are mainly used in the study of the deposition and emission of Hg in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In one experiment in Canada three different Hg isotopes (Hg-198, Hg-200 and Hg-202) were used to find out how the route of entry of mercury to an ecosystem affects the amount that becomes accumulated in fish. Several other trials using Hg isotopes are, or have been, undertaken in lakes in the US and Canada. Hg-202 is also used for the production of radioactive Hg-203 which is used for gamma radiation calibration.

Naturally occurring isotopes

This table shows information about naturally occuring isotopes, their atomic masses, their natural abundances, their nuclear spins, and their magnetic moments. Further data for radioisotopes (radioactive isotopes) of mercury are listed (including any which occur naturally) below.
Isotope Mass / Da Natural abundance (atom %) Nuclear spin (I) Magnetic moment (μ/μN)
196Hg 195.965807 (5) 0.15 (1) 0
198Hg 197.966743 (4) 9.97 (20) 0
199Hg 198.968254 (4) 16.87 (22) 1/2 0.5058852
200Hg 199.968300 (4) 23.10 (19) 0
201Hg 200.970277 (4) 13.18 (9) 3/2 -0.560225
202Hg 201.970617 (4) 29.86 (26) 0
204Hg 203.973467 (5) 6.87 (15) 0

In the above, the most intense ion is set to 100% since this corresponds best to the output from a mass spectrometer. This is not to be confused with the relative percentage isotope abundances which totals 100% for all the naturally occurring isotopes.

Radiosotope data

Further data for naturally occuring isotopes of mercury are listed above. This table gives information about some radiosotopes of mercury, their masses, their half-lives, their modes of decay, their nuclear spins, and their nuclear magnetic moments.
Isotope Mass / Da Half-life Mode of decay Nuclear spin Nuclear magnetic moment
194Hg 193.96538 520 y EC to 194Au 0
195Hg 194.96664 9.5 h EC to 195Au 1/2 0.541475
197Hg 196.967195 2.672 d EC to 197Au 1/2 0.527374
203Hg 202.972857 46.61 d β- to 203Tl 5/2 0.8489

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  1. Naturally occurring isotope abundances: Commission on Atomic Weights and Isotopic Abundances report for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in Isotopic Compositions of the Elements 1989, Pure and Applied Chemistry, 1998, 70, 217. [Copyright 1998 IUPAC]
  2. For further information about radioisotopes see Jonghwa Chang's (Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute) Table of the Nuclides
  3. Masses, nuclear spins, and magnetic moments: I. Mills, T. Cvitas, K. Homann, N. Kallay, and K. Kuchitsu in Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry, Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK, 1988. [Copyright 1988 IUPAC]

NMR Properties of mercury

Common reference compound: HgMe2/C6D6.

Table of NMR-active nucleus propeties of mercury
  Isotope 1 Isotope 2 Isotope 3
Isotope 199Hg 201Hg
Natural abundance /% 16.87 13.18
Spin (I) 1/2 3/2
Frequency relative to 1H = 100 (MHz) 17.910323 6.611400
Receptivity, DP, relative to 1H = 1.00 0.001 0.000197
Receptivity, DC, relative to 13C = 1.00 5.73 1.13
Magnetogyric ratio, γ (107 rad T‑1 s-1) 4.8457916 -1.788769
Magnetic moment, μ (μN) 0.87621937 -0.7232483
Nuclear quadrupole moment, Q/millibarn +674(77) [Mössbauer state] 387(6)
Line width factor, 1056 l (m4) - 0.20


  1. R.K. Harris in Encyclopedia of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, D.M. Granty and R.K. Harris, (eds.), vol. 5, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK, 1996. I am grateful to Professor Robin Harris (University of Durham, UK) who provided much of the NMR data, which are copyright 1996 IUPAC, adapted from his contribution contained within this reference.
  2. J. Mason in Multinuclear NMR, Plenum Press, New York, USA, 1987. Where given, data for certain radioactive nuclei are from this reference.
  3. P. Pyykkö, Mol. Phys., 2008, 106, 1965-1974.
  4. P. Pyykkö, Mol. Phys., 2001, 99, 1617-1629.
  5. P. Pyykkö, Z. Naturforsch., 1992, 47a, 189. I am grateful to Professor Pekka Pyykkö (University of Helsinki, Finland) who provided the nuclear quadrupole moment data in this and the following two references.
  6. D.R. Lide, (ed.), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 1999-2000 : A Ready-Reference Book of Chemical and Physical Data (CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, 79th edition, 1998.
  7. P. Pyykkö, personal communication, 1998, 204, 2008, 2010.

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