Luminescence Geochronology Lab


FLC Region

Security Lab



6th Avenue, Kipling Blvd
Building 15
Denver, CO 80225
United States


Description of Capability: Dating of sediment for geological, paleontological and archeological applications. Luminescence dating is a form of geochronology that measures the energy of photons being released. In natural settings, ionizing radiation (U, Th, Rb, & K ) is absorbed and stored by sediments in the crystal lattice. This stored radiation dose can be evicted with stimulation and released as luminescence. The calculated age is the time since the last exposure to sunlight or intense heat. The sunlight bleaches away the luminescence signal and resets the time 'clock'. As time passes, the luminescence signal increases through exposure to the ionizing radiation and cosmic rays. Luminescence dating is based on quantifying both the radiation dose received by a sample since its zeroing event, and the dose rate which it has experienced during the accumulation period. The principal minerals used in luminescence dating are quartz and potassium feldspar.

Specifications/Capabilities: OSL, IRSL, TL, radiation dosimetry

Scientific Opportunities/Applications: Quaternary dating technique—using quartz and feldspar minerals

Examples of Past Work with Partners: This lab has been used for state geological surveys, sister agencies of BOR, ACE, BIA, and NPS, NSF grant partners, and non-profit science foundations.

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