Examining the potential of high-resolution OSL dating of Chinese loess

Thomas Stevens, Simon J. Armitage, Huayu Lu, David S.G. Thomas

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Detailed analysis of the depositional characteristics of Chinese loess is required to determine the nature of the paleoclimate record preserved in these extensive sediments. High sampling resolution optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating has the potential to facilitate such an analysis. However, high-resolution dating is extremely time consuming and therefore of limited practical applicability. This study assesses the luminescence characteristics of loess from three sections on the Chinese Loess Plateau in an attempt to identify methods of increasing sample throughput without compromising data quality. Using the single-aliquot regenerative-dose technique, samples yield internally consistent results. However, dose recovery data indicate that care is required in selecting preheating regimes for different sections. The standardized growth curve approach was tested and found to be applicable within, but not between, sites. Nonetheless, the use of standardized growth curves offers increases in sample throughput that will allow more routine high-resolution dating of Chinese loess. High-resolution dose rates calculated using inductively coupled plasma (ICP) methods show relative homogeneity of radioisotope concentrations and are comparable to lower resolution field gamma-spectrometry measurements. Consequently, high-resolution OSL dating has great potential to elucidate the depositional characteristics of Chinese loess and facilitate more precise use of the paleoclimatic information it preserves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Chinese loess plateau;
  • OSL;
  • SAR;
  • Standardized growth curve

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