General references Links to other useful sites BACK TO HOME PAGE HOW DOES THERMOLUMINESCENCE DATING WORK?
Backhoe testing (in 19) on both sides of Highway 87 has shown that the Pleistocene Beaumont Formation lies less than 2 meters below the ground surface, overlain by sterile Holocene sand and clay representing swamp and marsh deposits. Although artifacts from essentially the entire known span of Texas prehistory are represented, the most striking aspect of this place are the extraordinary numbers of Paleoindian and Early Archaic projectile points that have been discovered here. By comparing this light output with that produced by known doses of radiation, the amount of radiation absorbed by the material may be found. Most mineral materials, including the constituents of pottery, have the property of thermoluminescence (TL), where part of the energy from radioactive decay in and around the mineral is stored (in the form of trapped electrons) and later released as light upon strong heating (as the electrons are detrapped and combine with lattice ions). The age of the pottery, in principle, may then be determined by the relation Age = Accumulated dose / Dose per year Although conceptually straightforward, TL has proven to to be far from simple in practice. Should I be concerned about artificial irradiation? If the radioactivity of the pottery itself, and its surroundings, is measured, the dose rate, or annual increment of dose, may be computed.