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The effects of low ambient temperatures on optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) processes: Relevance to OSL dating of martian sediments

S.W.S. McKeever
M.W. Blair
E.G. Yukihara
R. DeWitt
Journal / Anthology

Radiation Measurements
Year: 2010
Volume: 45
Page range: 60-70

Advances in luminescence dosimetry have made geochronological dating of materials from extreme environments possible through the use of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) single-aliquot techniques. However, these environments present challenges not always encountered in routine OSL dating, such as sediments that have been stored at low, and possibly highly variable, ambient temperatures. In recent years OSL has been proposed as a method for dating recent depositional events on surfaces of other planets, specifically, Mars. As a result it has become necessary to examine the constraints that may be imposed on the OSL method by the extreme environments of extraterrestrial planetary bodies. In this paper we report on investigations of the possible effects a low storage and/or a low OSL measurement temperature could have on the OSL process and the subsequent results. Pertinent OSL properties include the stability of electron traps, the overall luminescence efficiency, and possible thermal assistance processes. The particular focus of the work is on the potential application of the OSL technique for dating surface sediments on Mars.We report the results of OSL experiments on martian simulant materials, and of generalized computer simulations of potential OSL behavior. It is concluded that the stimulation and irradiation/calibration temperatures need to be maintained fixed throughout the experiment i.e. the dose estimation process and that the temperature during OSL stimulation needs to be appreciably higher than the highest temperature experienced during natural irradiation. The consequences of these findings for establishing an OSL protocol and instrument package for dating martian regolith material are discussed.