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OSL-Dating: Constraining the Pleistocene environmental history of the Atacama: Extending the age range of luminescence dating

Research areas: Physical Geography

Principal investigators: Dr. Georgina King, Prof. Dr. Helmut Brückner


Project info

D5 Bild 2 2017 05 30 300pxOSL dating will be used on the new 40 m core from PAG.
Photo: Georgina King


Understanding Quaternary climatic and environmental change is dependent upon a robust chronology of earth surface and/or environmental evolution. A primary objective of this CRC is to understand how the timing of humid phases relates to the activity of earth surface and biological processes from the present day to the Cenozoic. The landscape of the Atacama is dominated by clastic deposits, which means that luminescence dating is widely applicable.

The upper limit of luminescence dating is typically ~0.2-0.4 Ma because of signal saturation, but there is potential to extend the age range of this technique, which is the key objective of this sub-project. Luminescence dating is spatially versatile in terms of applicability, and can span the temporal gap between other geochronometers, e.g. radiocarbon dating (Z04) of organic material provides ages younger than ~50 ka whereas 10Be/21Ne cosmogenic nuclide dating of sediments can provide ages in excess of ~0.5 Ma (D01).


D5 Bild 3 2017 05 30 300pxAbundant tephra provides independent age control for OSL ages. Photo: Georgina King

This CRC offers a manifold of independent age cross-checks - e.g. from cosmogenic nuclide (D01), U-series disequilibrium (D02) and radiocarbon dating (Z04), palaeomagnetism and tephrochronology (A02), which will facilitate the development of a strong geochronological framework, within which extending the age range of luminescence dating can be explored.

Successfully extending the dating range of this technique will enable exploration of environmental changes during the late-mid Pleistocene, which remain poorly constrained in the Atacama.

Specifically this sub-project will explore the extension of the upper age limit of luminescence dating from ~0.2-0.4 Ma towards ~1 Ma.

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Prof. Dr. Tibor J. Dunai
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne
Zülpicher Str. 49b | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-3229 | tdunai@uni-koeln.de
  Managing Director:
Christian Tiede
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne

Zülpicher Str. 49b | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-89833 | christian.tiede@uni-koeln.de
  Deputy Speaker:
Prof. Dr. Martin Melles
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne

Zülpicher Str. 49a | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-2262 | mmelles@uni-koeln.de
Tim Schlüter
Institute of Geography | University of Cologne

Otto-Fischer-Str. 4 | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-3735 | webmaster@sfb1211.de
© 2018 CRC1211 - Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit