The Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) Laboratory

The OSL Laboratory was set up in 2003 as the Luminescence Dating Laboratory in the Department of Geography. The OSL laboratory is now a key research facility of the Department of Geography and Planning in the School of Environmental Sciences.

The Laboratory

The laboratory is located at the 7th floor of the Roxby building. It was purpose-built and comprises 3 rooms for sample preparation and measurement.  The dark-lab design comprises:

  • subdued yellow (589 nm) and red (660D40 nm) laboratory safe lights supported by red and green LED and torch lights (lab safe light spectra);

  • constant temperature provided by air conditioning;

  • stable power supply provided by independent electric circuits directly linked to the University main supply, conforming with University safety and radiation protection rules;

  • HF-proof fume cupboard;

  • separate installations for pressurised gases.


Besides conventional facilities for sample preparation (oven, sieving machine, flatbed shaker etc.), the laboratory equipment comprises:

  • 1 Risø DA-15 automated TL/OSL reader equipped with a 90Y/90Sr-source, delivering ~5.6 Gy/min, 41 blue LED's, providing ~30 mW cm-2 and a 1W IR laser diode delivering 160 mW cm-2 at 60% power;

  • 1 Risø DA 15B/C automated TL/OSL reader equipped with a 90Y/90Sr-source, 21 blue LED's, delivering ~30 mW cm-2, 21 IR LED's providing ~110 mW cm-2 at 90% power;

  • 1 Littlemore β-irradiator delivering ~7.5 Gy/min;

  • 1 Littlemore α-irradiator equipped with 6 241Am sources delivering ~2.6 Gy/min;

  • 1 SOL II sunlight simulator;

  • Coaxial n-type HPGe Gamma-Ray Detector with Nominal Relative Efficiency: 30-34%.


Our luminescence research follows 4 major topics:

Improving our understanding of luminescence properties of quartz and feldspar dosimeters

  • Shen, Z. and Mauz, B. 2012. Optical dating of young deltaic deposits on a decadal time scale. Quaternary Geochronology, in press.

  • Lauer, T., Krbetschek, M., Mauz, B. and Frechen, M., 2012. Yellow stimulated luminescence from potassium feldspar: Observations on its suitability for dating. Radiation Measurements, in press.

  • Poolton, N.R.J., Mauz, B., Lang, A., Jain, M. and Malins, A.E.R. (2006). Optical excitation processes in the near band-edge region of KAlSi3O8 and NaAlSi3O8 feldspar. Radiation Measurements 41, 542-548.
  • Poolton, N.R.J., Towlson, B.M., Hamilton, B., Wallinga, J. and Lang, A. (2007): Micro-imaging synchrotron-laser interactions in wide band-gap luminescent materials –Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 40, 3557-3562. doi:10.1088/0022-3727/40/12/002
  • Hernandez, M., Mauz, B., Mercier, N., Shen, Z., 2012. Evaluating the efficiency of TT-OSL SAR protocols. Radiation Measurements, in press. doi:10.1016/j.radmeas.2012.04.017

  • Shen, Z.X, Mauz, B. and Lang, A., 2011. Source trap characterization of thermally transferred OSL in quartz. J. Phys D: Applied Physics, 44, 295405.

  • Shen, Z. and Mauz, B., 2011.Estimating the equivalent dose of late Pleistocene fine silt quartz from the Lower Mississippi Valley using a common OSL growth curve. Radiation Measurements, 46, 649-654.

  • Shen, Z. and Mauz, B., 2009. De determination of quartz samples showing falling De(t) plots. Radiation Measurements 44, 566-570.

  • Packman, S.C., Mauz, B., Rousseau, D.-D., Antoine, P. and Lang, A. 2000. Implications of broad dose distributions obtained with the single-aliquot regenerative-dose method on quartz fine-grains from loess, Quaternary Geochronology 2, 39-44.

  • Mauz, B. and Lang, A. (2004a). Removal of the feldspar-derived luminescence component from polymineral fine silt samples for optical dating applications: evaluation of chemical treatment protocols and quality control procedures. Ancient TL 22, 1-8.

  • Mauz, B. and Lang, A. (2004b). The dose rate of beta sources for optical dating applications: A comparison between fine silt and fine sand quartz. Ancient TL 22, 45-48.

  • Lang, A. and Wagner, G.A., 1997. Infrared stimulated luminescence dating of Holocene colluvial sediments using the 410 nm emission. Quaternary Geochronology (Quaternary Science Reviews), 16, 393-396.

  • Mauz, B., Bode, T., Mainz, E., Blanchard, H., Hilger, W., Dikau, R. and L. Zöller, 2002. The luminescence dating laboratory at the University of Bonn: Equipment and procedures. Ancient TL, 20 (2), 53-61.

Improving dose-rate estimation

  • Nathan, R. and Mauz, B., 2008. On the dose rate estimate of carbonate-rich sediments for trapped charge dating. Radiation Measurements 43, 14-25.

  • Mauz, B., Packman, S. and Lang, A., 2006. The alpha efficiency of silt-sized quartz: New data obtained by single and multiple aliquot protocols. Ancient TL 24, 47-52. View PDF.

Testing the applicability of optical dating to fluvial, glacial and coastal sediments

  • Mellett, C.L., Mauz, B., Hodgson, D.M., Plater, A.J. and Lang, A., 2012. Optical dating of drowned landscapes: a case study from the English Channel. Quaternary Geochronology, in press.

  • Mauz, B., Baeteman, C., Bungenstock, F and Plater, A.J., 2010. Optical dating of tidal sediments: potentials and limits inferred from the North Sea coast. Quaternary Geochronology 5, 667-678. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2010.05.004

  • Thrasher, I.M., Mauz, B., Chiverrell, R.C. and Lang, A., 2009. Luminescence dating of glaciofluvial deposits: A review. Earth-Science Reviews 97, 133–146.

  • Thrasher, I., Mauz, B., Chiverrell, R.C., Lang, A. and Thomas, G.S.P., 2009. Testing an approach to OSL dating of Late Devensian glaciofluvial sediments of the British Isles. Journal of Quaternary Science 24, 785-801. ( DOI: 10.1002/jqs.1253

  • Lang, A. and Mauz, B., 2006. Towards chronologies of gully formation: optical dating of gully fill sediments from Central Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews 25, 2666-2675.

Application of luminescence analyses to fluvial, colluvial, glacial and coastal sedimentary environments

  • Whitfield, R.G., Macklin, M. G., Brewer, P.A., Lang, A., Mauz, B. and L. Maher (2012): The nature, timing and controls of the Quaternary development of the Rio Bergantes, Ebro basin, NE Spain. Geomorphology.

  • Shen, Z.X., Törnqvist, T., Autin, W.J., Mateo, Z.R.P., Straub, K.M. and Mauz, B., 2012. Rapid and widespread response of the Lower Mississippi River to eustatic forcing during the last glacial-interglacial cycle, GSA Bulletin, 124, 690-704. doi: 10.1130/B30449.1;

  • Elmejdoub, N, Mauz, B. and Jedoui, Y. 2011.  Sea level and climatic controls on the late Pleistocene coastal aeolianites in the Cap Bon Peninsula, North-Eastern Tunisia. Boreas 40, 198-207.

  • Mauz, B., Elmejdoub, N., Nathan, R. and Jedoui, Y., 2009. Last interglacial coastal environments in the Mediterranean Sahara transition zone. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 279, 137-146.

  • Verstraeten, G., Rommens, T., Peeters, I., Poesen, J., Govers, G. and A. Lang (2009): A temporarily changing Holocene sediment budget for a loess-covered catchment (central Belgium). Geomorphology 108, 24–34. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.03.022

  • Rommens, T., Verstraeten, G., Peeters, I., Poesen, J., Govers, G., Van Rompaey, A., Mauz, B., Packman, S. and Lang, A., 2007. Reconstruction of late-Holocene slope and dry valley sediment dynamics in a Belgian loess environment. The Holocene 17, 777-788.

  • Rousseau, D.-D., Sima, A., Antoine, P., Hatté, C., Lang, A., Zöller, L., 2007. Link between European and North-Atlantic abrupt climate changes over the last glaciation. Geophysical Research Letters 34, L22713.

  • Mauz, B. and Bungenstock, F., 2007. How to reconstruct trends of late Holocene relative sea level: A new approach using tidal flat clastic sediments and optical dating. Marine Geology 237, 225-237.

  • Mauz, B. and Felix-Henningsen, P., 2005. Palaeosols in Saharian and Sahelian dunes of Chad: archives of Holocene North African climate changes. The Holocene 15, 453-458.

  • Lang, A.and S. Hönscheidt, 1999. Age and source of soil erosion derived colluvial sediments at Vaihingen Enz, Germany. Catena, 38/2, 89-107.

Current research projects include:

  • Pleistocene evolution of the Mississippi delta; NSF collaborative project with T Tornqvist

  • Pleistocene and Holocene evolution of the Levant coast (Israel); partly funded by the Academic Study Group on Israel & the Middle East, AFI.

  • Holocene evolution of the Etosha Pan, Namibia; funded by the Ferrington Hopkin Trust

  • The coast of Oman and the Indian Monsoon; DFG collaborative project with G Hoffmann

  • The English Channel continental shelf during the Quaternary using dating and palaeoenvironmental evidence

  • Neotectonic movements in the Western Balkans, Royal Society funded

  • Continuous vs. episodic fluviodeltaic sedimentation: Implications for carbon sequestration and coastal restoration. NSF collaborative project with Z. Shen