Fundamentals of luminescence photo- and thermochronometry

Benny Guralnik, Reza Sohbati

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


    With its classic applications rooted in archaeology and sedimentology, the field of luminescence dating has, in the past decade, experienced a remarkable bloom of innovation and novel applications in Earth science. In the field of thermochronometry, luminescence has begun to successfully complement mainstream noble-gas and fission-track techniques, by constraining thermal histories of bedrock at low temperatures (100 degree C) over previously inaccessible timescales (105 years). In the field of surface exposure dating (hereafter: photochronometry), luminescence has been put on a solid theoretical footing similar to that of cosmogenic nuclide techniques, and can now be used to determine the duration (105 years) and degree of rock surface preservation on unprecedented spatial (millimeter) scales. In this chapter, we present a uniform mathematical description of luminescence photo- and thermochronometers, highlighting the close theoretical similarity between the two. We first introduce and discuss key theoretical concepts (partial retention, apparent age, and system closure), and demonstrate them using familiar luminescence signals obeying simple first-order reaction kinetics. We then proceed to show how these concepts may be deployed for reconstructing past environmental conditions (static or variable), involving temperature or light. We conclude the chapter by discussing some of the current methodological conundrums, including the description of non-first-order reaction kinetics, the incorporation of quantum mechanical tunneling effects, and the utilization of multi-signal luminescence systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAdvances in Physics and Applications of Optically and Thermally Stimulated Luminescence
    PublisherWorld Scientific
    Publication date2019
    ISBN (Print)978-1-78634-578-3
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78634-580-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    SeriesAdvances in Physics and Applications of Optically and Thermally Stimulated Luminescence


    • Physics and Astronomy (all)

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