In this study, we investigate the potential of rock surfaces to provide luminescence burial ages for boulders from moraine deposits. We sampled four boulders from a terminal moraine at the Malta Valley, Austria, all deposited ∼2 m below the present ground surface, and measured the IRSL signal as a function of depth into the boulder surfaces. It is clear from these profiles that all four boulders were exposed to at least some daylight prior to final deposition, and in one boulder, there is evidence for multiple exposure/burial events. The profiles show that the luminescence signal at the surface of two boulders must have been completely zeroed before burial. The burial doses derived from these two well-reset surfaces can thus be safely used to calculate burial ages, which may be the same as the depositional age of the terminal moraine. The IRSL signals from both boulders seem to suffer from anomalous fading with g-values of up to 15% decade-1. The younger fading-corrected age of ∼14 ka is in agreement with the deposition of the terminal moraine and coincides with the assumed Gschnitz stadial, while the older age of ∼39 ka most likely represents an earlier event during which this boulder was exposed to light. Our results suggest that there is a high probability of sampling light-exposed and even well-bleached boulders from moraine deposits. We thus conclude that rock surface luminescence dating offers the possibility of obtaining reliable ages for moraine deposition. Even boulders which are partially bleached and thus not suitable for dating can provide insight into transportation pathways as well as depositional processes in glacial environments leading to a better understanding of the dynamics of glaciers.
- Rock surface luminescence dating
- Burial dating
- European Alps