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Thermoluminescence dating of sediments

When a specimen is reheated, the trapped energy is released in the form of light (thermoluminescence) as the electrons escape.The amount of light produced is a specific and measurable phenomenon.This is useful for ceramics, as it determines the date of firing, as well as for lava, or even sediments that were exposed to substantial sunlight.These crystalline solids are constantly subjected to ionizing radiation from their environment, which causes some energized electrons to become trapped in defects in the molecular crystal structure.

The complex history of radioactive force on a sample can be difficult to estimate.However, thermoluminescence proven acceptable in providing approximate dates in the absence of more exact measures.Sources: “Dating In Exposed and Surface Contexts”, ed.: Beck, Charlotte. An input of energy, such as heat, is required to free these trapped electrons.The accumulation of trapped electrons, and the gaps left behind in the spaces they vacated, occurs at a measurable rate proportional to the radiation received from a specimen’s immediate environment.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.If the specimen’s sensitivity to ionizing radiation is known, as is the annual influx of radiation experienced by the specimen, the released thermoluminescence can be translated into a specific amount of time since the formation of the crystal structure.Because this accumulation of trapped electrons begins with the formation of the crystal structure, thermoluminescence can date crystalline materials to their date of formation; for ceramics, this is the moment they are fired.In the authors studies each sample was dated by all 3 methods whereas the Europeans analyses employed only the Regeneration technique.This work presents results from loess sections in Mississippi, Illinois and Alaska.


  1. Thermoluminescence TL dating is the determination by means of measuring the accumulated radiation dose of the time elapsed since material containing crystalline minerals was either heated lava, ceramics or exposed to sunlight sediments.

  2. Thermoluminescence TL dating of wind blown minerals provides a technique whereby non-carbonaceous sediments could be dated to several hundred thousand years. Two recent reports, however, indicate age underestimates on feldspar in some European loesses older than 50 ka, the effect increasing in.

  3. Thermoluminescence TL dating is the determination by means of measuring accumulated radiation dose of the time elapsed since. in the case of sediments.

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