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Luminescence dating of glacial and associated sediments: review, recommendations and future directions


  • Markus Fuchs (e-mail:, Lewis A. Owen, Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA


Dating glacial and associated sediments is essential to provide a temporal framework for accurate reconstructions of past climatic conditions and for helping to determine the nature and magnitude of glaciation for landscape evolution studies. There are few widely applicable, accurate and precise methods available to date Quaternary landforms and sediments, despite the numerous numerical dating methods that are currently available. Furthermore, there are few methods that can be utilized for the whole of the late Quaternary (c. 125 kyr ago to present). Recent developments in luminescence dating, however, are providing opportunities to date a broad range of late Quaternary glacial and associated landform sediments. The application of luminescence methods requires an understanding of the nature of glacial and associated environments to select the most appropriate sediment samples for dating. Problems associated with luminescence dating of glacial sediments include insufficient bleaching, low sensitivity of quartz, and variable dose rates during the history of the sediment due to changing water content or nuclide leaching. These problems can be overcome by careful sampling and descriptions of the sampling site, testing for insufficient bleaching and modelling dose rate variability.