Luminescence

This line of reserach is focused on Luminescence, a relatively young numerical dating method which main development occurred in 1985 with the discovery of Optical Luminescence (OSL), following its beginnings as Thermo-Luminescence (TL) when ceramic dating started in the 1960s. The implementation of OSL allowed dating a great variety of inorganic materials of geological and anthropogenic origins in the form of grains of sand, quartz- or feldspar-rich sediments (and even rock surfaces). Over the past 15 years, this method has become a recognized and widely applied technique to decipher Quaternary chronologies, in part due to the fact that both quartz and feldspar are the most abundant minerals on the surface of the Earth.

The spatio-temporal and evolutionary study of sedimentary accumulations such as deserts, dunes, beaches, ridges, alluvial terraces, deltas, islands, cave, lacustrine and even shallow continental platform sediments, can be achieved applying Luminescence. It is a method also valuable to investigate processes such as sea level change, landscape evolution surrounding archaeological sites (including submerged ones), as well as their settlement patterns, and even useful to date a simple Medieval brick. These are some of the topics of investigation we pursue in Luminescence.

The applications and limits of Luminescence are yet to be discovered as, nowadays, it is not only used as a dating method, currently exhibiting an age range between ~10 and > 500,000 years ago (potentially 1 Ma), but also as a potential sedimentary proxy, i.e. a novel approach to analyze transport and deposition processes of grains of sand, heterogeneity in sediments, and characterization of specific sedimentary environments.

Current Research Topics of this line of research:

  • Application and standardization of OSL dating in sediments of geological (mostly coastal, desert and fluvial environments), archaeological / heritage, and palaeo-anthropologic origin.

  • Development of new methods for the analysis of the luminescence signal (traditional full OSL and TL on quartz grains, or PPSL on bulk sediment with a SUERC Portable OSL Reader) to characterize different sedimentary environments, applying luminescence as a sedimentological proxy.

  • Development and application of OSL dating to sediments of chaotic, extreme (e.g. tsunamis, severe storms, etc.) or litho-stratigraphically variable (e.g. multiple facies) origin, from both terrestrial and subaqueous environments.

  • Application of state-of-the-art measurement techniques (e.g. TT-OSL, VSL) on different sedimentary environments.

  • Improving environmental dose rate estimation.

  • Exploration of comparison and age constrains between OSL and ESR chronologies.

  • Comparison and normalization of sample preparation procedures involved in OSL dating.