Advantages and disadvantages of thermoluminescence dating

Luminescence dating is good for between a few hundred to (at least) several hundred thousand years, making it much more useful than carbon dating.The term luminescence refers to the energy emitted as light from minerals such as quartz and feldspar after they've been exposed to an ionizing radiation of some sort.The energy released by stimulating the crystals is expressed in light (luminescence).The intensity of blue, green or infrared light that is created when an object is stimulated is proportional to the number of electrons stored in the mineral's structure and, in turn, those light units are converted to dose units.Minerals, in fact, everything in our planet, are exposed to cosmic radiation: luminescence dating takes advantage of the fact that certain minerals both collect and release energy from that radiation under specific conditions.

The method is a direct dating technique, meaning that the amount of energy emitted is a direct result of the event being measured.Better still, unlike radiocarbon dating, the effect luminescence dating measures increases with time.As a result, there is no upper date limit set by the sensitivity of the method itself, although other factors may limit the method's feasibility.Thermoluminescence was first clearly described in a paper presented to the Royal Society (of Britain) in 1663, by Robert Boyle, who described the effect in a diamond which had been warmed to body temperature. The possibility of making use of TL stored in a mineral or pottery sample was first proposed by chemist Farrington Daniels in the 1950s. Applications and limitations of thermoluminescence to date quaternary sediments.

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