Osl dating technique

Luminescence dating is a technique used to date Quaternary sediments and for determining when ancient materials such as pottery, ceramics, bricks or tiles were last heated. The atmospheric lead record preserved in lagoon sediments at a remote equatorial Pacific location: Palmyra Atoll, northern Line Islands.

However, if these substances are heated (such as when pottery is fired in a kiln or stones are dropped in a fire) this releases these trapped electrons and resets the 'clock' to zero.

The laboratory is set up in dark rooms with extremely subdued orange illumination.

One room serves as preparation laboratory, where all incoming samples are unpacked and chemically treated to purify the sample and extract the desired minerals in the right grain size.

Some soils can have their electron 'clocks' reset simply by being exposed to sunlight.

If they are then buried beneath later deposits, they begin to trap electrons again and can be dated by similar methods (OSL).

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The Luminescence Dating Facility at Victoria University is the only one of its kind in New Zealand and is led by Prof Rewi Newnham and Ningsheng Wang.

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