OSL Dating in Archaeology

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 dating mineral grains in the sediments such as quartz and potassium feldspar. The radiation dating charge to remain within luminescence grains in structurally unstable “electron traps”. The trapped archaeology accumulates over time at a rate determined dating the amount of background radiation at the location where the sample was buried. Stimulating these mineral grains using either light blue or green for OSL; infrared for IRSL or heat for TL causes a luminescence signal long be emitted as osl archaeology unstable electron energy is released, the intensity of which varies depending on archaeology amount of radiation absorbed during dating and specific properties of the mineral. Most luminescence dating methods rely on osl assumption that the mineral grains optically sufficiently “bleached” at the time of the event being dated.


Chronology is a crucial scientific question for both archaeologic and paleoenvironmental studies on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau QTP. In the QB, very few early archaeological sites were found, because of the erosional environment, which is not suitable for the preservation of human activity remains HARs. As a result, artifacts were usually found on the ground surface, e.

The OSL dates identified three phases of significant aeolian activity during the prehistoric period, the onset dated to ca , 30years ago and.

Please reference: Mallinson, D. Optically stimulated luminescence is a method of determining the age of burial of quartz or feldspar bearing sediments based upon principles of radiation and excitation within crystal lattices, and stems from the fact that imperfections in a crystal lattice have the ability to store ionizing energy Aitken , ; Botter -Jensen et al. Radiation within sediments comes from alpha, beta, and gamma radiation emitted during the decay of U, U, Th, 40 K, and 87 Rb, and their daughter products, both within the mineral grains and in their surroundings Lian , , and from cosmic rays Figure 1.

Under controlled laboratory conditions, assuming the sample was collected under light-restricted conditions, controlled exposure of the sample to photons yields a luminescence response the equivalent dose, D e , the intensity of which is a function of the dose rate within the sediment, and the length of time the sample was exposed to the background radiation. In order to measure the age, two factors must be known; 1 the environmental dose rate, and 2 the laboratory dose of radiation that produces the same intensity of luminescence as did the environmental radiation dose the equivalent dose.

Dividing the equivalent dose by the dose rate yields time. Samples for OSL analysis are typically collected from opaque core tubes aluminum or black pvc tubes that are pushed into the sediment using coring equipment vibracore , geoprobe , etc. Samples are then extracted for processing under dark-room conditions.

Optically Stimulated Luminescence

The impetus behind this study is to understand the sedimentological dynamics of very young fluvial systems in the Amazon River catchment and relate these to land use change and modern analogue studies of tidal rhythmites in the geologic record. Many of these features have an appearance of freshly deposited pristine sand, and these observations and information from anecdotal evidence and LandSat imagery suggest an apparent decadal stability.

Signals from medium-sized aliquots 5 mm diameter exhibit very high specific luminescence sensitivity, have excellent dose recovery and recycling, essentially independent of preheat, and show minimal heat transfer even at the highest preheats. Significant recuperation is observed for samples from two of the study sites and, in these instances, either the acceptance threshold was increased or growth curves were forced through the origin; recuperation is considered most likely to be a measurement artefact given the very small size of natural signals.

Despite the use of medium-sized aliquots to ensure the recovery of very dim natural OSL signals, these results demonstrate the potential of OSL for studying very young active fluvial processes in these settings. An important facet of the development of a geochronological technique is the investigation of potential age range.

S3. OSL dating. Sample preparation. In , at the archaeological site of Aranbaltza OSL samples were collected by hammering PVC tubes (5×20 cm) into the.

The Luminescence Dating and Dosimetry Laboratory is developing new techniques for application to the dating of artefacts and deposits from sites that range widely in terms of chronological period, geographic location and material type. Recent work as focused on optically stimulated luminescence OSL techniques, in particular a novel experimental approach to the measurement of single grain OSL. A study produced, for the first time, absolute dates for a range of brick stupas located within the hinterland of Anuradhapura , contributing to the further development of a brick monument chronology for the region.

Ongoing work is examining whether unfired clay bricks from various sites can be dated accurately. OSL techniques are being applied to date sediment sequences in stratigraphic contexts associated with irrigation systems. In the absence of suitable organic samples for C dating, these systems are very difficult to date.

Optically stimulated luminescence

Introduction How do we measure the OSL signal? How do we measure the radiation dose rate? Another way of dating glacial landforms is optically stimulated luminescence dating OSL. OSL is used on glacial landforms that contain sand, such as sandur or sediments in glacial streams. The OSL signal is reset by exposure to sunlight, so the signal is reset to zero while the sand is being transported such as in a glacial meltwater stream.

Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating has become one of the foremost techniques in establishing this framework. OSL is based on the.

Resources home v2. Introduction Services Prices. Application Central for samples up to about Lund containing quartz. Technical Geography Laboratory All sediments contain trace minerals including uranium, thorium and potassium. Water Content Calibration Water within the soil has an attenuating effect on the ambient radiation. Consequently, samples analysed without price of their water content or using a low estimate of water content will return ages younger than samples corrected for this luminescence.

Similarly, inaccurate estimates of pore water salinity will dramatically affect the results.

Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating

The OSL optically stimulated luminescence dating method exploits dosimetric properties of grains of minerals naturally occurring in sediments and man-made materials. In archaeology the OSL method is used to date pottery and other heated materials e. When compared with the radiocarbon method it makes possible dating objects containing no organic matter or originating in periods for which the radiocarbon method is less accurate due to the shape or lack of the calibration curve.

This paper discusses the details of recent advances in the method and several examples of its application to material from archaeological excavations of Medieval to Palaeolithic sites. Skip to main content Skip to sections.

Luminescence dating refers to a group of methods of determining how long ago mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight or sufficient heating. It is useful to.

Optically stimulated luminescence dating at Rose Cottage Cave. A single-grain analysis demonstrates that the testing procedure for feldspar fails to reject single aliquots containing feldspar and the overestimate of age is attributed to this. Seven additional luminescence dates for the Middle Stone Age layers combined with the 14 C chronology establish the terminal Middle Stone Age deposits at 27 years ago, while stone tool assemblages that are transitional between the Middle Stone Age and the Late Stone Age are dated to between 27 years and 20 years ago.

Although there are inconsistencies in the Middle Stone Age dates, the results suggest that the Howiesons Poort at Rose Cottage Cave dates to between 70 years and 60 years ago. Much of the rich archaeological heritage in southern Africa is older than 50 years, which is the limit of the ubiquitous 14 C dating technique. In order to make appropriate inter-site comparisons of artefactual evidence, and further to compare the trajectory of human adaptation with external factors such as changing climates, it is necessary to establish a reliable chronological framework.

Optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating has become one of the foremost techniques in establishing this framework. OSL is based on the build-up and release of radiation energy in crystalline minerals, typically quartz. The charge build-up manifests as electrons, mobilized in the quartz matrix by environmental radiation, which populate pre-existing energy minima that are called ‘traps’.

Luminescence dating

Luminescence dating refers to a group of methods of determining how long ago mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight or sufficient heating. It is useful to geologists and archaeologists who want to know when such an event occurred. It uses various methods to stimulate and measure luminescence. All sediments and soils contain trace amounts of radioactive isotopes of elements such as potassium , uranium , thorium , and rubidium.

in archaeological contexts being OSL (optically stimulated luminescence), we review this ‘family’ of luminescence dating techniques and look back on

Crystalline rock types and soils collect energy from the radioactive decay of cosmic uranium, thorium, and potassium Electrons from these substances get trapped in the mineral’s crystalline structure, and continuing exposure of the rocks to these elements over time leads to predictable increases in the number of electrons caught in the matrices. But when the rock is exposed to high enough levels of heat or light, that exposure causes vibrations in the mineral lattices and the trapped electrons are freed.

Luminescence dating is a collective term for dating methods that encompass thermoluminescence TL and optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating techniques. OSL is also less commonly referred to as optical dating, photon stimulated luminescence dating or photoluminescence dating.. Luminescence dating methods are based on the ability of some mineral grains to absorb and store energy from environmental ionizing radiation emanating from the immediate surroundings of the mineral grains as well as from cosmic radiation.

When stimulated these minerals, generally referred to as dosimeters, will release the stored energy in the form of visible light; hence the term luminescence. Measuring the energy and determining the rate at which the energy accumulated allows an age representing the time that has elapsed since the energy began accumulating to be determined. Stimulation of energy release using heat is termed TL while stimulation using light is referred to as OSL. The age range of luminescence methods generally spans from a few decades to about , years, though ages exceeding several hundred thousand years have been reported in some studies.

Luminescence Dating

Luminescence dating including thermoluminescence and optically stimulated luminescence is a type of dating methodology that measures the amount of light emitted from energy stored in certain rock types and derived soils to obtain an absolute date for a specific event that occurred in the past. The method is a direct dating technique , meaning that the amount of energy emitted is a direct result of the event being measured.

Better still, unlike radiocarbon dating , the effect luminescence dating measures increases with time. As a result, there is no upper date limit set by the sensitivity of the method itself, although other factors may limit the method’s feasibility. To put it simply, certain minerals quartz, feldspar, and calcite , store energy from the sun at a known rate. This energy is lodged in the imperfect lattices of the mineral’s crystals.

Luminescence dating is an important technique for providing chronological control for Quaternary sedimentary sequences. In this article recent developments in.

Jain Mayank, Murray A. Optically stimulated luminescence dating: how significant is incomplete light exposure in fluvial environments? In: Quaternaire , vol. Fluvial Archives Group. Clermond-Ferrant Optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating of fluvial sediments is widely used in the interpretation of fluvial response to various allogenic forcing mechanisms during the last glacial-mterglacial cycle. We provide here a non-specialist review highlighting some key aspects of recent development in the OSL dating technique relevant to the Quaternary fluvial community, and describe studies on dating of fluvial sediments with independent chronological control, and on recent fluvial sediment.

Quaternaire, 15, , , p Obtaining chronologies for fluvial deposits is an important component in understanding the fluvial response to changes in climate, sea-level, tectonic and anthropogenic factors. Optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating is now widely used by Quaternary scientists; it can provide ages in a range well beyond that of radiocarbon and on deposits from environments not conducive to the preservation of organic matter.

This wide adoption of the technique is shown by many recent studies on aeolian, alluvial and marine stratigraphie records Murray and Olley, The luminescence clock is reset when all the trapped charges giving rise to OSL are released during exposure to daylight prior to deposition this process is also called bleaching or zeroing, fig. Optical dating has been widely used to date aeolian sediments, for example coastal dunes, inland dunes and sandsheets Singhvi and Wintle, ; Murray and Olley, These sediments usually have prolonged exposure to daylight during transport and consequently their OSL signals are fully zeroed at the time of sediment deposition.


This paper aims to provide an overview concerning the optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating method and its applications for geomorphological research in France. An outline of the general physical principles of luminescence dating is given. A case study of fluvial sands from the lower terrace of the Moselle valley is then presented to describe the range of field and laboratory procedures required for successful luminescence dating.

The paper also reviews the place of OSL dating in geomorphological research in France and assesses its potential for further research, by focusing on the diversity of sedimentary environments and topics to which it can be usefully applied. Hence it underlines the increasing importance of the method to geomorphological research, especially by contributing to the development of quantitative geomorphology.

Initial quartz optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating feasibility studies Testing Luminescence Dating Methods for Small Samples from Very Young.

Put simply, OSL dating techniques gives us an estimate of the time since mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight. Professor Jacobs used her OSL dating technique to analyse 28, individual grains of quartz from Madjebebe , which revealed groundbreaking information about the arrival of the first modern humans in Australia. Little grains moving around in the landscape are like little batteries. Sand gets buried in the archeological site and builds up energy.

Scientists go into the site and take the sample in the dark, because of course if the samples are exposed to light, the signal is reset. Samples are taken back to the lab and carefully handled in darkroom conditions. Scientists can then determine how much energy was stored in that single grain since it was last exposed to sunlight. Professor Jacobs and her team analysed 28, samples from Madjebebe, which dated the archeologically significant site at at least 65, years old.

Dating Methods

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