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User guide for luminescence sampling in archaeological and geological contexts

May 13, 2015

Luminescence dating provides a direct age estimate of the time of last exposure of quartz or feldspar minerals to light or heat and has been successfully applied to deposits, rock surfaces, and fired materials in a number of archaeological and geological settings. Sampling strategies are diverse and can be customized depending on local circumstances, although all sediment samples need to include a light-safe sample and material for dose-rate determination. The accuracy and precision of luminescence dating results are directly related to the type and quality of the material sampled and sample collection methods in the field. Selection of target material for dating should include considerations of adequacy of resetting of the luminescence signal (optical and thermal bleaching), the ability to characterize the radioactive environment surrounding the sample (dose rate), and the lack of evidence for post-depositional mixing (bioturbation in soils and sediment). Sample strategies for collection of samples from sedimentary settings and fired materials are discussed. This paper should be used as a guide for luminescence sampling and is meant to provide essential background information on how to properly collect samples and on the types of materials suitable for luminescence dating.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title User guide for luminescence sampling in archaeological and geological contexts
DOI 10.7183/2326-3768.3.2.166
Authors Michelle S. Nelson, Harrison J. Gray, Jack A. Johnson, Tammy M. Rittenour, James K. Feathers, Shannon Mahan
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Advances in Archaeological Practice: A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology
Series Number
Index ID 70148015
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center