Thomas Kolb1,2*, Markus Fuchs2, Johanna Lomax2
1Geographical Institute, Chair of Geomorphology – University of Bayreuth, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany
2Department of Geography, Physical Geography – Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, D-35390 Giessen, Germany
Over the last decades, luminescence dating methods have become a widespread tool in palaeoenvironmental and archaeological research. Their increasing importance is well documented by a huge and still growing number of studies spanning a wide range of climatic and regional settings as well as a great variety of spatial and temporal scales.
Luminescence dating has successfully been applied to various natural sediments, such as loess and aeolian sands, fluvial and coastal deposits as well as hillslope sediments and volcanic material. Numerical dating of specific sedimentation events provides the opportunity to define chronological frameworks for pronounced changes in environmental settings and even to derive information on the dynamics and on driving forces for these changes.
In archaeology a wealth of suitable artefacts has been subject of luminescence methods, including, for example, ceramics, pottery, fire places and tools made of heated flint stones. Together with the analysis of colluvial deposits attributed to human triggered clearing of forests for building up agricultural infrastructure, these artefacts provide important sources for reconstructing human occupation and give valuable information on the increasing human impact on landscape evolution ever since the first Neolithic settlements.
Although widely applied, luminescence dating is still far away from being a standard method providing some kind of easy to use “one-click-solution”. On the contrary, there are still significant methodological issues and specific problems emerging either from challenging environmental settings or from innovative measurement procedures for which the physical background is often not yet fully understood.
This talk will give an introduction to the wide field of applied luminescence dating, including a special focus on the great variety of environmental settings and on the practical workflow. We will illustrate various luminescence techniques and their specific fields of application and discuss methodological challenges and limitations as well as promising new approaches to either circumvent or at least minimize these limitations.