Luminescence and Electron Spin Resonance Dating
PRL method can determine age of million year old objects
DNA Friday, November 13, 2009 10:53:00 AM
While carbon dating has been a common method of calculating the age of historical artefacts, it has limited scientists to ascertain ages to around only 50,000 years. However, scientists at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) have developed a new method called Luminescence and Electron Spin Resonance Dating, which will help scientists and historians calculate the age of artefacts up to at least a million years.
This new technique, referred to as luminescence dating for short, uses the luminescence of minerals to calculate the ages of artefacts and enables researchers to understand the climatic and seismic events at different periods in time.
Talking about the usefulness of this new method, former director of the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) at Jodhpur, RP Dhir said, “We have been conducting research in the Thar Desert and have been able to find that some of the sand dunes there are more than one lakh years old. We have been enabled to use this method of calculation of age by the expertise of the PRL scientists.”
The expertise has enabled researchers at CAZRI to come up with several interesting findings, including that the Yamuna River earlier flowed towards Rajasthan and would flow down to the Arabian Sea, he said. “The river connected to the Satlej River to become the Saraswati River, along the banks of which a rich human civilisation dwelled,” Dhir said.
Dhir was present at an Asia Pacific conference hosted by PRL on Thursday. More than 100 scientists from 15 countries took part in the conference, which discussed various aspects of physics and the applications of luminescence dating.
By using this method, researchers will be able to calculate the ages of different global changes. Citing one such example, Ann G Wintle, a professor at Cambridge University, UK, discussed how this method has helped scientists calculate when certain rivers changed course. Other scientists participating in the event discussed their research into global changes, including snow avalanches and earthquakes.
While some scientists using this method to find recurring trends in earthquakes have been able to predict future trends, others are using the method to date snow avalanches in order to find safe tracks for the movement of military troops.