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Exploring the potential of luminescence methods for dating Alpine rock glaciers


Fuchs, Margret C; Böhlert, Ralph; Krbetschek, Matthias; Preusser, Frank; Egli, Markus (2013). Exploring the potential of luminescence methods for dating Alpine rock glaciers. Quaternary geochronology, 18:17-33.

Abstract

Rock glaciers contain valuable information about the spatial and temporal distribution of permafrost. The wide distribution of these landforms in high mountains promotes them as useful archives for the deciphering of the environmental conditions during their formation and evolution. However, age constraints are needed to unravel the palaeoclimatic context of rock glaciers, but numerical dating is difficult. Here, we present a case study assessing the potential of luminescence techniques (OSL, IRSL) to date the inner sand-rich layer of active rock glaciers. We focus on the signal properties and the resetting of the signal prior to deposition by investigating single grains. While most quartz shows low signal intensities and problematic luminescence characteristics, K-feldspar exhibits much brighter and wellperforming signals. Most signals from plagioclases do not show suitable properties. Luminescence sig- nals far below saturation indicate distinct but differential bleaching. The finite mixture model was used to determine the prominent populations in the equivalent dose distributions. The luminescence ages represent travel times of grains since incorporation into the rock glacier and hence, minimum ages of rock glacier formation. Luminescence ages between 3 ka and 8 ka for three rock glaciers from the Upper Engadine and Albula region (Swiss Alps) agree well with independent age estimates from relative and semi-quantitative approaches. Therefore, luminescence seems to have the potential of revealing age constraints about processes related to the formation of rock glaciers, but further investigations are required for solving some of the problems remaining and reducing the dating uncertainties.

Abstract

Rock glaciers contain valuable information about the spatial and temporal distribution of permafrost. The wide distribution of these landforms in high mountains promotes them as useful archives for the deciphering of the environmental conditions during their formation and evolution. However, age constraints are needed to unravel the palaeoclimatic context of rock glaciers, but numerical dating is difficult. Here, we present a case study assessing the potential of luminescence techniques (OSL, IRSL) to date the inner sand-rich layer of active rock glaciers. We focus on the signal properties and the resetting of the signal prior to deposition by investigating single grains. While most quartz shows low signal intensities and problematic luminescence characteristics, K-feldspar exhibits much brighter and wellperforming signals. Most signals from plagioclases do not show suitable properties. Luminescence sig- nals far below saturation indicate distinct but differential bleaching. The finite mixture model was used to determine the prominent populations in the equivalent dose distributions. The luminescence ages represent travel times of grains since incorporation into the rock glacier and hence, minimum ages of rock glacier formation. Luminescence ages between 3 ka and 8 ka for three rock glaciers from the Upper Engadine and Albula region (Swiss Alps) agree well with independent age estimates from relative and semi-quantitative approaches. Therefore, luminescence seems to have the potential of revealing age constraints about processes related to the formation of rock glaciers, but further investigations are required for solving some of the problems remaining and reducing the dating uncertainties.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:10 Dec 2013 14:23
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 00:59
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1871-1014
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2013.07.001

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