News - May 1, 2013

Luminescence lab comes to Atlas

New method determines age of sediments.

The Dutch Centre for Luminescence Dating was opened this week in Atlas. The Delft laboratory moved together with the new professor of Soil Geography and Landscape Jacob Wallinga. He is director of the NCL, which he set up at the Technical University of Delft ten years ago with support from science research council NWO.
Luminescence dating is a still fairly new method of determining when sand was deposited as sediment. The method makes use of weak light signals given off by some minerals (quartz and feldspar) in sand when exposed to light. The strength of this 'luminescence' is related to the length of time the material was stored in the soil. In this context sand does not need an hourglass around it to tell the time.
the right place
The move to Wageningen marks the NCL's coming of age, says Wallinga. 'In Delft we were in a technical and physics-oriented environment. That was perfect for developing the technique but we depended on external parties for its application. Here in Wageningen we are in the right place for applying the technique.'
The NCL is housed on the second floor in Atlas, where the kind of darkroom has been created that is necessary for the measurements. The lab is a collaboration between various universities including Wageningen, Deltares and the national service for cultural heritage. It will therefore work not only for Wageningen research projects but also for external clients.'