Advances in luminescence

The time dimension is fundamental to most Quaternary studies. Although vast advancing in dating have been made methods all require laboratory-based protocols that are not available during field sampling.

Until recently, instantly derived chronologies remained largely aspirational. It is now possible to make in field measurements of luminescence intensity which give a first order approximation for sediment age. Research I have undertaken (funded by WHITE ROSE and RGS) has shown in the context of coastal dunes this signal can be dominated by differences in age and provide key temporal information. Research using portable luminescence in the Namibian Sand sea has also allowed calibration of the portable luminescence single in terms of age allowing rapid evaluation of age in the field. A separate project (funded by DFF) has be undertaking laboratory experiments to replicate conditions in the shearing zone under a glacier to see if such conditions can cause luminescence signals to reset without the need for light exposure.

Key outcomes

  • It is possible to rapidly generate accurate, high resolution down core OSL data using a portable OSL reader.
  • While they do not provide an instant chronology, down core POSL profiles do provide high resolution relative age profiles to enable differentiation of older from the younger sediments, identify phases of sedimentation and temporal hiatuses.
  • Conditions within the shearing zone under glaciers do hold the potential to reset the OSL signal of some grains.

Recent papers

  • Bateman, M.D., S. Stein, R.A. Ashurst, K. Selby (2015). Instant Luminescence Chronologies? High resolution luminescence profiles using a portable luminescence reader. Quaternary Geochronology 30, 141-146. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2014.12.007 [pdf available click here]
  • Bateman, M.D., Swift, D.A., Piotrowski, J.A. and Sanderson, D.C.W. (2012). Investigating the effects of glacial shearing of sediment on luminescence. Quaternary Geochronology, 10, 230-236.
  • Stone, A.E.C., Bateman, M.D. and Thomas, D.S.G. (2015). Rapid age assessment in the Namib Sand Sea using a portable luminescence reader. Quaternary Geochronology 30, 134-140. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2015.02.002

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