Common silicate minerals like quartz and potassium feldspar contain lattice-charge defects formed during crystallization and from subsequent exposure to ionizing radiation.
These charge defects are potential sites of electron storage with a variety of trap-depth energies.
Discoveries in the 1980s and 1990s that exposure of quartz and feldspar grains to a tunable light source, initially with lasers and later by light emitting diodes, yield luminescence components that are solar reset within seconds to minutes, expanded greatly the utility of the method (Huntley et al., 1985; Hütt et al., 1988; Aitken, 1998).
In the past 15 years there have been significant advances in luminescence dating with the advent of single aliquot and grain analysis, and associated protocols with blue/green diodes that can effectively compensated for laboratory induced sensitivity changes (Murray and Wintle, 2003; Wintle and Murray, 2006; Duller, 2012) and render accurate ages for the past ca. Most recently, the development of protocols for inducing the thermal-transfer of deeply trapped electrons has extended potentially OSL dating to the 106 year timescale for well solar-reset quartz and potassium feldspar grains from eolian and littoral environments (Duller and Wintle, 2012).
(e) The grains are buried again and luminescence is acquired with exposure to ionizing radiation.
(f) Careful sampling without light exposure and measuring of the natural luminescence, followed by a normalizing test dose (Ln/Tn) compared to the regenerative dose to yield an equivalent dose (De) (from Mellet, 2013).
This technique, as thermoluminescence, was originally developed in the 1950s and 1960s to date fired archaeological materials, like ceramics (Aitken, 1985).
Ensuing research in the 1970s documented that marine and other sediments with a prior sunlight exposure of hours to days were suitable for thermoluminescence dating (Wintle and Huntley, 1980).
95% reduction in OSL within 4 seconds of exposure to light from blue diodes Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating or optical dating provides a measure of time since sediment grains were deposited and shielded from further light or heat exposure, which often effectively resets the luminescence signal (Fig.1).Often this luminescence “cycle" occurs repeatedly in many depositional environments with signal acquisition of mineral grains by exposure to ionizing radiation during the burial period and signal resetting (“zeroing") with light exposure concurrent to sediment erosion and transportation. (a) Luminescence is acquired in mineral grains with exposure to ionizing radiation and trapping of electrons.Often mineral grains that are fresh from a bedrock sources have significantly lower luminescence emissions per radiation dose in comparison to grains that have cycled repeatedly. (b) The luminescence for grains is zeroed by exposure to sunlight with erosion and transport.Since the middle of the twentieth century, radiometric dating techniques have helped geologists and archaeologists give certain samples a specific and concrete age.Before this and other 'absolute' dating methods, scientists could only determine the relative or chronological ages of samples.
The radioactive decay of 40K releases beta and gamma radiation, whereas the decay in the U and Th series generates mostly alpha particles and some beta and gamma radiation.