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.
Luminescence Dating: Applications in Earth Sciences and Archaeology
Luminescence dating - Wikipedia
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. 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.
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.
Luminescence dating utilises energy deposited in mineral lattices by naturally occurring ionising radiation to record information encoding chronology, depositional process information, and thermal history records in ceramics, lithics, and sedimentary materials. Precision of dating varies from sample to sample, and from context to context, depending on individual sample characteristics mineralogy, luminescence sensitivity, stability and homogeneity of the radiation environment, and the quality of initial zeroing. A well calibrated laboratory can produce accuracy at the lower end of the precision scale. For high quality work it is important that the environmental gamma dose rates are recorded in-situ at time of excavation, which is most readily facilitated by involving the dating laboratory in fieldwork.