Application of Bayesian analysis to improve the accuracy and precision of optically stimulated luminescence dating techniques

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Luminescence dating is an important absolute chronological dating technique which determines when a mineral was last exposed to heat or light. It is particular used for sediment burial dating and can extend back ∼500 ka (depending on the environmental dose rate). This makes luminescence dating an incredibly useful tool for a wide array of archaeological, geological and climatological studies. Two major approaches to luminescence dating are quartz single-grain and multi-grain dating. Single-grain dating is sometimes favored over multi-grain dating, even though it has not been tested against independent age control to the same extent as multi-grain dating, particularly not for samples older than 50 ka. Traditionally, luminescence analysis is carried out using a frequentist approach, but recently it has been suggested that Bayesian analysis may be more appropriate. In such an approach all analysis steps are combined into a single model.
The three main objectives of this thesis are 1) to explore the behavior of such a a Bayesian hierarchical model (called “BayLum”), 2) to test the accuracy of single-grain dating using five samples known to have been buried during the early Eemian warm period (∼128 ka), and 3) to provide a robust and absolute luminescence chronology for Kostenki 17, which is an Upper Palaeolithic site potentially recording the first arrival of Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) in Eastern Europe.
Results show that conventional frequentist single-grain dating analysis underestimates the independent age control by 40-50% on average. However, standard multigrain dating, and single-grain dating using BayLum, recover the age control within 1σ. I also provide a luminescence chronology for Kostenki 17, and date the first presence of AMH at this site to 48.8 ka, 95% credible interval [46.4 ka, 51.4 ka]. I thus present the earliest evidence of AMH in Eastern Europe.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Physics, Technical University of Denmark
Number of pages151
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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