Luminescence dating

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The DRILL is a research laboratory dedicated to fundamental investigations in the luminescence properties of earth materials, and to the application of luminescence dating techniques to geomorphological, geological, and archeological problems. Cord Luminescence Laboratory (DRILL) is located at DRI’s northern campus in Reno, NV and offers a broad spectrum of luminescence dating capabilities, including optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and thermoluminescence (TL) techniques.Thermoluminescence dating is used for material where radiocarbon dating is not available, like sediments.Its use is now common in the authentication of old ceramic wares, for which it gives the approximate date of the last firing.The Radiation Dose Rate - the dose accumulated per year-must be determined first.

Another important technique in testing samples from a historic or archaeological site is a process known as Thermoluminescence testing, which involves a principle that all objects absorb radiation from the environment.

Thermoluminescence dating presupposes a "zeroing" event in the history of the material, either heating (in the case of pottery or lava) or exposure to sunlight (in the case of sediments), that removes the pre-existing trapped electrons.

Therefore, at that point the thermoluminescence signal is zero.

As a crystalline material is heated during measurements, the process of thermoluminescence starts.

Thermoluminescence emits a weak light signal that is proportional to the radiation dose absorbed by the material. The technique has wide application, and is relatively cheap at some US0–700 per object; ideally a number of samples are tested. The destruction of a relatively significant amount of sample material is necessary, which can be a limitation in the case of artworks.

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