Research Detail

Luminescence geochronology

Our team focusing on luminescence geochronology is headed by Michael Meyer and includes Stephan Fuhrmann and Elena Tomasi (PhD students) as well as Patricia Urban (Master student) and Wolfgang Mutschlechner (lab technician). OSL laboratory (link) & more on youtube (link english) (link german).

In solving geological and archaeological questions we apply Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating to a wide range of depositional environments including lake, river, aeolian, glacial and peri-glacial environments as well as cave-mouth sediments and other more exotic deposits.

OSL dating allows the age of sedimentary deposits to be accurately constrained and has revolutionized studies of events that occurred in the past ca. 300 000 years of Earth´s and humanity´s history. OSL dating is based on the principle that mineral grains, such as quartz and feldspar, absorb energy that originates from naturally occurring ionizing radiation in the sedimentary environment. The radiative energy is stored in the crystal lattices of these minerals in the form of trapped electrons and the number of trapped electrons increases over time. Optical read out of these electrons under controlled laboratory conditions thus provides a tool to constrain the depositional age of sediment.

More recently OSL has also been used as a chronometer for dating geological and archaeological rock surfaces. This approach exploits the fact that the latent OSL signal in the topmost centimeters of rock surfaces is gradually reduced while exposed to sun light. We pioneer OSL rock surface dating and apply it to alpine rock slope failures and archaeological surface artefacts and petroforms.

Scroll down for our OSL projects funded by the FWF and ERC.

Ongoing and previous OSL dating collaborations include: 
Back

Current projects

The wheel of time

This project will establish OSL rock surface dating on firm grounds as a novel way of constraining the age of archaeological and geological rock surfaces. We will make use of state-of-the-art 2D luminescence imaging technology, novel feldspar luminescence signals and protocols in combination with classical OSL dating techniques.

Read more

OSL surface dating of rock slope failures

This project further develops and applies a set of classical and novel optical dating techniques to rock fall sites and deep-seated gravitational slope deformations in alpine contexts.

Read more

OSL dating of archaeological key-sites in the Western Mediterranean

We combine state-of-the-art optical dating technologies with soil and sediment micromorphology in order to provide new insights into an archaeological key period of the Mediterranean region: the transition from the Bronze Age into the Classical Antiquity.

Read more

Out in the open

The project will use existing and recently developed OSL methods in novel ways in order to date the use of lithic quarries, the construction of stone arrangements and the accumulation of surface artefact scatters.

Read more

Vindija Cave

We use single-grain OSL techniques to construct an accurate OSL chronology for the cave-mouth sediments at Vindija Cave, a key site for the study of the Middle and the early Upper Palaeolithic of Europe.

Read more