All sediments include low levels of uranium, thorium, and potassium which produce ionizing radiation, which accumulates over time, and is absorbed and stored within the sediment. If this store is expelled from the sediment, it will generate luminescence, the amount produced being proportional to the accumulated dose. If the annual radiation dose is known, the age of the sediment can be calculated:Age=total accumulated radiation dose (Gy)annual radiation doseSediments rich in quartz and feldspar, which cannot be dated by conventional radiocarbon methods, can be absolutely dated (± ~ 10%) within a range of 100 000 to 200 000 years. Aeolian sediments are ideal for luminescence dating, but samples from other sedimentary environments have been successfully dated.
Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography — Archaeology.