Rapid in situ assessment of luminescence-bleaching depths for deriving burial and exposure chronologies of rock surfaces

E. L. Sellwood, M. Kook, M. Jain

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Recent developments in luminescence dating offer new ways to date exposure and burial durations of rocks. The new rock surface dating methods ideally require high-resolution data, faster sample preparation and measurement times, and field screening methods to select samples with appropriate luminescence characteristics and bleaching histories. Presented here is a demonstration of an EMCCD (electron multiplying charge coupled device) based system capable of imaging high-resolution infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) and infrared-photoluminescence (IRPL) from rock samples. The IRPL can be detected at both 880 nm and 955 nm. Using this instrument, the entire luminescence-depth profile can be reconstructed by imaging a single surface cut perpendicular to the exposed rock face. We demonstrate the possibility of reconstructing luminescence-depth profiles suitable for rock surface dating from large (cm-scale) rock samples, without using a regeneration dose for normalisation of the natural luminescence signals. Based on the different bleaching characteristics of the IRSL and IRPL emissions at 880 nm and 955 nm, we show that it is possible to gain reliable estimates of bleaching depths from measurement of as few as two images of the IRPL signal (one for each emission), or from measurement of the IRSL decay curve. We thus by-pass laborious sample preparations and the need for a gamma source to estimate the bleaching depth, thereby extending the 2D luminescence-depth profile imaging technique to other laboratories that lack access to ionising radiation facilities. This study also makes a significant progression towards development of a field instrument for in situ relative exposure dating, and sample screening for rock surface burial dating.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101227
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Rock surface dating
  • Infrared photoluminescence
  • Luminescence bleaching profiles
  • Spatially resolved


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