Luminescence dating wiki

05-Jul-2015 06:56 by 9 Comments

Luminescence dating wiki

Luminescence is emission of light by a substance not resulting from heat; it is thus a form of cold-body radiation.

Historically, radioactivity was thought of as a form of "radio-luminescence", although it is today considered to be separate since it involves more than electromagnetic radiation.

The term 'luminescence' was introduced in 1888 by Eilhard Wiedemann.

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 It includes techniques such as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL), and thermoluminescence (TL).

"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".

The trapped charge accumulates over time at a rate determined by 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 to be emitted as the stored unstable electron energy is released, the intensity of which varies depending on the amount of radiation absorbed during burial and specific properties of the mineral.

Most luminescence dating methods rely on the assumption that the mineral grains were sufficiently "bleached" at the time of the event being dated.

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