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Optically stimulated luminescence dating of fluvial deposits a review

The aim of this paper is to provide people involved in geomorphological research a global overview about the principles and procedures of optical dating, from the field sampling to the age interpretation.Most of the publications actually focus on one part of either the method (, laboratory procedures, statistical treatment) or its applications, and available general literature for non-specialists is still uncommon.

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Absolute dating methods have been developed over the last five decades (Jull and Scott, 2007).As soon as the mineral is exposed to sunlight, for example during its transport, trapped electrons absorb the photon energy (from the Sun), and are released from the traps.The rate of release depends on four main parameters: i) the kind of mineral: the eviction occurs faster for quartz than for feldspars (reduction of the luminescence signal by a factor of 100 in ~ 20 s for the former, but a few minutes for the latter; Godfrey-Smith , these are more efficient to stimulate and release the electrons.Hence it underlines the increasing importance of the method to geomorphological research, especially by contributing to the development of quantitative geomorphology.L’objectif de cet article est de proposer une présentation d’ensemble des méthodes de datations par luminescence stimulée optiquement (OSL) et de leurs applications dans le champ des recherches en géomorphologie.Après une présentation des principes physiques généraux, les procédures mises en œuvre aussi bien sur le terrain qu’en laboratoire sont abordées, à partir de l’exemple des analyses réalisées sur des alluvions sableuses issues d’une basse terrasse de la Moselle.La place des datations OSL dans la recherche géomorphologique en France et son potentiel pour les recherches futures sont décrits à travers une présentation de la diversité des environnements sédimentaires et des problématiques pouvant être traités.This paper aims to provide an overview concerning the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating method and its applications for geomorphological research in France.An outline of the general physical principles of luminescence dating is given.The latter were first applied to burned minerals from archaeological artefacts [thermoluminescence (TL) method].Improvements of this technique led to the development, for more than twenty years, of the optical dating method [commonly referred to as Optically Stimuled Luminescence (OSL)] which is now applied to sediments from various origins (Wintle, 2008).

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