Luminescence Dating: Applications in Earth Sciences and Archaeology

Optically Stimulated Luminescence OSL dating has emerged within the last 20 years as a key Quaternary absolute dating tool, with a wide range of terrestrial and marine applications. Optical dating techniques employ ubiquitous quartz or feldspar grains to directly date the deposition of sedimentary units. As such, the optical dating methods allow the systematic chronological evaluation of Quaternary-age sedimentary sequences. Within the School of Geography and the Environment, the OLD Laboratory provides support particularly for the Landscape Dynamics research cluster, with a specific focus on low latitude environment and climate change, geoarchaeology and geomorphology. In addition our researchers continuously engage in efforts to improve and develop the methodology and to further advance our knowledge on the fundamental physical mechanisms underlying the dating method. The OLD Laboratory also provides a commercial luminescence dating service and works closely with clients in industry, archaeological organizations, environmental institutes and other academic groups.

Luminescence dating laboratory

Over the last 60 years, luminescence dating has developed into a robust chronometer for applications in earth sciences and archaeology. The technique is particularly useful for dating materials ranging in age from a few decades to around ,—, years. In this chapter, following a brief outline of the historical development of the dating method, basic principles behind the technique are discussed. This is followed by a look at measurement equipment that is employed in determining age and its operation.

Luminescence dating of geological and archaeological objects. Summary. Absolute dating by luminescence methods is widely applicable in geology.

Luminescence dating is a technique used to date Quaternary sediments and for determining when ancient materials such as pottery, ceramics, bricks or tiles were last heated. The technique can be applied to material from about to several hundred thousand years old. It is primarily a research facility for the School and for collaborators in New Zealand.

One room serves as preparation laboratory, where all incoming samples are unpacked and chemically treated to purify the sample and extract the desired minerals in the right grain size. Please contact Ningsheng Wang MSc. We use optically stimulated luminescence OSL to date aeolian, fluvial, lacustrine and shallow water marine sediments, as well as most quartz or feldspar-bearing objects, which have seen sunlight or intense heat during deposition.

Luminescense Laboratory

Luminescence dating is a geochronological technique that spans the Late Quaternary. It is particularly useful for minerogenic sediments, for example as optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating of quartz and infrared stimulated luminescence IRSL dating of feldspar. Thermoluminescence TL dating can also be used to determine the age of pottery.

Laboratory of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL Laboratory). Description Applicability. The radiocarbon method is a traditional method for dating and.

Luminescence dating, particularly using optically stimulated luminescence OSL , is revolutionizing Quaternary and archaeological science because it allows dating of sediments and artifacts that perhaps 10 years ago could not be dated. The lab has produced more than OSL ages from years to , years for aeolian, fluvial, lacustrine, and marine sediments, as well as pottery, artifacts and secondary carbonate. Chronologies have been developed for archaeological sites in Botswana and the U. As the OSL of a sediment is quickly lost when exposed to sunlight tens of seconds many sediments are bleached lack an OSL signal when deposited and buried.

After deposition these sediments accumulate luminescence which can be measured allowing the age of burial to be determined. There is now convincing evidence that many glacial, fluvial, aeolian, and even shallow marine sediments can be dated by OSL techniques. The upper limit of age by OSL is largely determined by the annual dose on the sediment which is related to it’s content of uranium, thorium and potassium. Low levels of radioactive isotopes in the sediment lead to very slow saturation of quartz and feldspar grains by released electrons and so ages in excess of ka may be possible.

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Luminescence Dating facility

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and to show you personalised advertising. To find out more, read our privacy policy and cookie policy. OSL dating can be used to determine the time since naturally occurring minerals, such as quartz and feldspar, were last exposed to light within the last few hundreds of thousands of years. It is one of the main methods used to establish the timing of key events in archaeology and human evolution, landscape and climate change, and palaeobiology in the latter half of the Quaternary.

The luminescence dating laboratory undertakes optically stimulated luminescence (OSL/IRSL) and Thermoluminescence (TL) as well as.

In luminescence dating, the signal accumulates within minerals over time as a function of low level, natural radiation exposure. The datable event is that point in time when the signal was reset to zero and started to grow again. The signal is essentially a dosimeter, converting to a chronometer by estimating the rate of dose absorption. Find out about our luminescence dating service. The time dependent signal is sourced from naturally ubiquitous silt or sand sized mineral grains; principally quartz or feldspar.

Age estimates can be provided for:. The datable range is considerable, from sub-decadal to in excess of , years. Email: ptoms glos. Luminescence dating laboratory. In this section Luminescence dating laboratory Luminescence dating service Research and facilities. Find out about our luminescence dating service Datable contexts The time dependent signal is sourced from naturally ubiquitous silt or sand sized mineral grains; principally quartz or feldspar.

The OSL Lab

Optically Stimulated Luminescence OSL dating is a dating method for Quaternary sediments and archaeological materials. The method utilises the tiny light signal the luminescence emitted from mineral grains when they are exposed to light the optical stimulation. This signal is built up through the absorption of energy from ionising radiation, emitted from radioisotopes that are present in natural sediment. The signal is reset by light, so the method determines the length of time since the sediment was last exposed to sunlight.

OSL dating is therefore applicable only to sediments that were exposed to sunlight during their last episode of transport and deposition. This permits the dating of aeolian, fluvial, shoreline and lake sediment, but not, for example, sub-glacial sediment.

The DRI E.L. Cord Luminescence Laboratory (DRILL) is located at DRI’s northern campus in Reno, NV and offers a broad spectrum of luminescence dating.

Luminescence dating is used to identify when a sample was last exposed to daylight or extreme heat by estimating the amount of ionising radiation absorbed since burial or firing. This equation very simply expresses the calculations necessary, but it is important to be aware of the factors influencing the two values used. Heterogeneous sediments and radioactive disequilibria will increase errors on Dr, while incomplete bleaching of the sample prior to burial, anomalous fading in feldspars, and the estimation of past sediment moisture content may all also add to increased errors.

The dating of sediments using the luminescence signal generated by optical stimulation OSL offers an independent dating tool, and is used most often on the commonly occurring minerals of quartz and feldspar and, as such, has proved particularly useful in situations devoid of the organic component used in radiocarbon dating. Quartz has been used for dating to at least ka, while the deeper traps of feldspar have produced dates as old as 1 ma.

The use of fine-grain dating for samples such as pottery, loess, burnt flint and lacustrine sediments, and coarse-grain dating of aeolian, fluvial and glacial sediments is regularly undertaken. While thermoluminescence TL, the generation of a luminescence signal generated by thermal stimulation is still conducted on pottery and burnt flint samples, the bulk of luminescence dating now uses optical stimulation as this releases a signal that is far more readily zeroed than that re-set by heat.

Analysis of fully bleached samples is preferred as this ensures that associated errors are kept to a minimum. Despite this, procedures exist with which to identify and take account of partially bleached grains, as may be seen in fluvial, or more likely glacial sediments, where light exposure may have been attenuated by turbid or turbulent conditions. It is important to observe certain conventions when collecting samples in order to reduce errors as much as possible.

By taking samples from well-sorted sediment structures problems with heterogeneous dose rates may be avoided, and all grains are more likely to have undergone the same depositional history. Any areas of disturbance such as soil formation, groundwater leaching, bioturbation or slumping, should be avoided to remove the potential for post-depositional mixing of grains.

As the exclusion of light exposure is vital, opaque steel or plastic tubes are driven into sediment taking care to discard any material that may have undergone exposure. All subsequent preparation is conducted under subdued orange light to avoid the early stimulation of any trapped charge.

Laboratory of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL Laboratory)

This trapped signal is light sensitive and builds up over time during a period of no light exposure during deposition or burial but when exposed to light natural sunlight or artificial light in a laboratory the signal is released from the traps in the form of light — called luminescence. In this facility we aim to sample these minerals found in all sediments without exposing them to light so that we can stimulate the trapped signal within controlled laboratory conditions with heat thermoluminescence — TL or light optically stimulated-luminescence — OSL.

As most sedimentary processes or events are based on the deposition of sediment these depositional ages are critical to geomorphological research. In addition, the age of sediment deposition is also crucial for the evidence found within the sediment such as pollen, fossils and artefacts and therefore the technique is relevant for paleoclimatology, archaeological and paleontological research.

Laboratory irradiated quartz has a TL emission band below °C in the region of – nm. Figure 6. Examples of TL (a, b) and OSL (c, d).

The Vienna luminescence lab was founded in the year The lab was build with the perspective of elaborating key questions of environmental and Quaternary research, as e. Markus Fiebig markus. Optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating determines the last exposure to sunlight of a sediment. Sedimentation ages are calculated by deviding the equivalent dose De by the dose rate Do. Sources of natural radioactivity in sediments are Th, U, U and 40K found in a lot of minerals, and cosmic radiation.

Luminescence dating is applicable to a wide range of sediments. Most commonly, quartz or feldspar grains, ubiquitous in any sediment are used for De determination. Best suited are aeolian sediments such as dune sands or loess. Waterlain sediments such as fluvial, glaciofluvial or litoral deposits can be problematic with respect to OSL dating, due to partial resetting of the luminescence signal during transport and deposition.

However, recent methodological approaches, in particular, dating of individual grains of quartz, are able to deal with incomplete bleaching cf. Duller Furthermore, luminescence dating can be applied to fired materials such as ceramics or hearth stones. The time span covered by luminescence dating ranges from a few tens of years up to several hundreds of thousand years.