Osl dating

The use of longer wavelength stimulation light to that of the emissions helps to ensure reliable evaluations and blue or green light is now most widely used for the stimulation of quartz. As feldspar can be measured using the longer wavelengths of infrared IR stimulation, a broader range of emissions are available for measurement see Figure 4.

Firstly, the natural signal Ln present in the sample is measured, followed by a series of rising known radiation doses from which a dose response curve can be constructed Figure 4. These subsequent doses are designed to bracket the natural signal and so make it possible to interpolate from the curve the Equivalent Dose needed to generate Ln.

Institute of Geological Sciences

It is recognised that the luminescence generated following laboratory irradiation contains a proportion of electrons that are considered thermally unstable over geological time and are not present when measuring the natural signal in a sample. To remove this element a preheat is administered, which in turn may increase the sensitivity of the sample to further irradiation.

The introduction of a standard test dose Tn following the measurement of the natural and laboratory doses allows the calculation of a ratio with which to monitor, and correct for, any change in sensitivity. Further parameters are tested during and before this sequence to confirm that the protocol can successfully recover a signal. The SAR approach provides multiple Des and also allows for the explicit testing of partial bleaching.


The calculation of the dose rate introduces uncertainties due to substantial variability being observed in potassium, uranium and thorium which are the principal sources of environmental radiation. Although minor below altitudes of 1 km, an additional contribution from cosmic rays is also considered, and can be limited to the soft component fraction by only using sediments below depths of more than 0. Increased moisture content and carbonate coating of grains can lead to an attenuation of the radiation reaching the sample, and so ultimately to an age overestimation if not identified.

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With alkali-feldspars, their internal potassium content contributes a significant proportion of the total radiation it experiences, and so considerably reduces the reliance on the external dose rate, variations in moisture content and overburden and so the associated uncertainties Duller, ; Preusser, The principles of Luminescence Dating Luminescence dating is used to identify when a sample was last exposed to daylight or extreme heat by estimating the amount of ionising radiation absorbed since burial or firing.

Figure 1 Illustration of the accumulation of an OSL signal while a sample is buried, and subsequent zero-ing of the signal following exposure to daylight, or laboratory induced light. Collection of Samples It is important to observe certain conventions when collecting samples in order to reduce errors as much as possible.

Figure 3 Examples of emission spectra from quartz solid line stimulated by light at nm, and an alkali feldspar dotted line stimulated using light at ca nm. Luminesence measurement procedures LEDs are now widely used for optical stimulation, with the photons emitted being measured by a photomultiplier tube PMT attached to a luminescence reader see Figure 3.

It is used in at least two applications:. The method makes use of electrons trapped between the valence and conduction bands in the crystalline structure of certain minerals most commonly quartz and feldspar.

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The ionizing radiation produces electron-hole pairs: Electrons are in the conduction band and holes in the valence band. The electrons that have been excited to the conduction band may become entrapped in the electron or hole traps. Under stimulation of light the electrons may free themselves from the trap and get into the conduction band. From the conduction band they may recombine with holes trapped in hole traps.

USU OSL Laboratory - What is OSL?

If the centre with the hole is a luminescence center radiative recombination centre emission of light will occur. The photons are detected using a photomultiplier tube.

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The signal from the tube is then used to calculate the dose that the material had absorbed. The OSL dosimeter provides a new degree of sensitivity by giving an accurate reading as low as 1 mrem for x-ray and gamma ray photons with energies ranging from 5 keV to greater than 40 MeV.

The OSL dosimeter's maximum equivalent dose measurement for x-ray and gamma ray photons is rem. For beta particles with energies from keV to in excess of 10 MeV, dose measurement ranges from 10 mrem to rem. Neutron radiation with energies of 40 keV to greater than 35 MeV has a dose measurement range from 20 mrem to 25 rem. In diagnostic imaging the increased sensitivity of the OSL dosimeter makes it ideal for monitoring employees working in low-radiation environments and for pregnant workers.


To carry out OSL dating, mineral grains have to be extracted from the sample. Occasionally other grain sizes are used.

The difference between radiocarbon dating and OSL is that the former is used to date organic materials, while the latter is used to date minerals. Events that can be dated using OSL are, for example, the mineral's last exposure to sunlight; Mungo Man , Australia's oldest human find, was dated in this manner.