Methods dating sediments

"Optical dating" typically refers to OSL and IRSL, but not TL.All sediments and soils contain trace amounts of radioactive isotopes of elements such as potassium, uranium, thorium, and rubidium.These slowly decay over time and the ionizing radiation they produce is absorbed by mineral grains in the sediments such as quartz and potassium feldspar.The radiation causes charge to remain within the grains in structurally unstable "electron traps".Most luminescence dating methods rely on the assumption that the mineral grains were sufficiently "bleached" at the time of the event being dated.For example, in quartz a short daylight exposure in the range of 1–100 seconds before burial is sufficient to effectively “reset” the OSL dating clock.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using each.

In a study of the chronology of arid-zone lacustrine sediments from Lake Ulaan in southern Mongolia, Lee et al.

discovered that OSL and radiocarbon dates agreed in some samples, but the radiocarbon dates were up to 5800 years older in others.-deficient carbon from adjacent soils and Paleozoic carbonate rocks, a process that is also active today.

The concept of using luminescence dating in archaeological contexts was first suggested in 1953 by Farrington Daniels, Charles A. Saunders, who thought the thermoluminescence response of pottery shards could date the last incidence of heating.

The traditional OSL method relies on optical stimulation and transfer of electrons from one trap, to holes located elsewhere in the lattice – necessarily requiring two defects to be in nearby proximity, and hence it is a destructive technique.

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