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The lab has produced more than 300 OSL ages (from 140 years to 120,000 years) for aeolian, fluvial, lacustrine, and marine sediments, as well as pottery, artifacts and secondary carbonate.
Chronologies have been developed for archaeological sites in Botswana and the U. The laboratory has mainly RISØ equipment and OSL ages are obtained using the reliable single-aliquot, regenerative-dose (SAR) protocol.
In the luminescence process, when naturally occurring minerals are exposed to low level, ambient, ionizing radiation emissions associated with the decay of U, Th, and K, electrons become stored and collected within defects in crystal lattices referred to as ‘trapping centers’ or ‘traps’.
When dosed minerals are then re-exposed to light or heat, they release the stored electrons, emitting a photon of light that is referred to as luminescence.
It is applicable to sedimentary deposits ranging from a few hundreds of years old to several hundred thousand years old.Members of the laboratory have pioneered many major advances in the field in the last two decades, and they continue to undertake a mixture of:- (1) fundamental research to understand the physics of the luminescence process in minerals, (2) the design of equipment and procedures to measure these signals (3) development of software to analyse and process data (4) the application of the technique to Quaternary issues Training An easily accessible summary of how luminescence dating works, and some examples of how the method can be applied was written by Prof Geoff Duller for English Heritage (Luminescence Dating - Guidelines on using luminescence dating in archaeology (PDF)) and is freely available for downloading.ALRL is running a specialist course entitled "Luminescence Dating: Theory, Methods and Application" that will next run in November 2019.Low levels of radioactive isotopes in the sediment lead to very slow saturation of quartz and feldspar grains by released electrons and so ages in excess of 500 ka may be possible.Typically OSL techniques produce ages from one or two hundred years to about 400 ka with an error of around 10%.