The Vienna luminescence laboratory (VLL)

The Vienna luminescence lab was founded in the year 2006. The lab was build with the perspective of elaborating key questions of environmental and Quaternary research, as e.g. establishment of chronostratigraphies, modelling of geodynamic processes and reconstruction of Quaternary palaeoenvironments. It is equipped with two Risø TL-DA 20 luminescence readers including an IR and green laser single grain unit.
For further details, please contact Ass. Prof. Dr. Christopher Lüthgens (christopher.luethgens(at) Prof. Dr. Markus Fiebig (markus.fiebig(at)

Basic principle of OSL dating

Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating determines the last exposure to sunlight of a sediment. Sedimentation ages are calculated by deviding the equivalent dose (De) by the dose rate (Do). The equivalent dose, expressed in Gy (= 1 J/kg), is a measure of the radiation dose accumulated in minerals such as quartz and feldspars during burial. The dose rate describes the natural ionising radiation in sediments and is expressed in Gy/a. Sources of natural radioactivity in sediments are 232Th, 238U, 235U and 40K found in a lot of minerals, and cosmic radiation.

Materials and the time span covered by OSL dating

Luminescence dating is applicable to a wide range of sediments. Most commonly, quartz or feldspar grains, ubiquitous in any sediment are used for De determination. Best suited are aeolian sediments such as dune sands or loess. Waterlain sediments such as fluvial, glaciofluvial or litoral deposits can be problematic with respect to OSL dating, due to partial resetting of the luminescence signal during transport and deposition. However, recent methodological approaches, in particular, dating of individual grains of quartz, are able to deal with incomplete bleaching (cf. Duller 2008). Furthermore, luminescence dating can be applied to fired materials such as ceramics or hearth stones. The time span covered by luminescence dating ranges from a few tens of years up to several hundreds of thousand years. The upper dating limit is highly dependent on the environmental dose rate and internal luminescence properties of the minerals to be dated.

Contact details:

Postal address: Markus Fiebig / Christopher Lüthgens Institute of Applied Geology Department of Civil Engineering and Natural Hazards University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna Peter Jordan-Str. 70; A-1190 Wien; Austria Location of the Vienna luminescence lab: Institute of Applied Geology Department of Civil Engineering and Natural Hazards University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna Peter Jordan-Str. 82; A-1190 Wien; Austria

Further reading:

For recent reviews of luminescence dating and its application in Quaternary Research the reader is referred to e.g. Duller, G.A.T. (2004). Luminescence dating of Quaternary sediments: recent advances. Journal of Quaternary Science, 19: 183-192. Lian, O.B., Roberts, R.G. (2006). Dating the Quaternary: progress in Luminescence dating of sediments. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25: 2449-2468. Murray, A.S., Olley, J.M. (2002). Precision and accuracy in the optically stimulated luminescence dating of sedimentary quartz: a status review. - Geochronometria, 21: 1-15. Preusser, F., Degering, D., Fuchs, M., Hilgers, A., Kadereit, A., Klasen, N., Krbetschek, M., Richter, D., Spencer, J. (2008). Luminescence dating: Basics, methods and applications. Quaternary Science Journal (Eiszeitalter und Gegenwart), 57: 95-149. Boreas Journal, Volume 37 Issue 4, 2008 (469-677). Special Issue: Luminescence dating of Quaternary sediments.

Selected luminescence related publications of the Vienna Luminescence Lab group

Fiebig, M., Preusser, F. (2007). Investigating the amount of zeroing in modern sediments of River Danube, Austria. Quaternary Geochronology, 2/1-4: 143-149. Fiebig, M., Preusser, F., Steffen, D., Thamó-Bozsó, E., Grabner, M., Lair, G.J., Gerzabek, M.H. (2009). Luminescence Dating of Historical Fluvial Deposits from the Danube and Ebro. Geoarchaeology, 2/24: 224-241. Klasen, N., Fiebig, M., Preusser, F., Radtke, U. (2006). Luminescence properties of glaciofluvial sediments from the Bavarian Alpine Foreland. Radiation Measurements, 41: 866-870. Lomax, J., Hilgers, A. Twidale, C.R., Bourne, J.A., Radtke, U. (2007). Treatment of broad equivalent dose distributions in OSL dating of dune sands from the western Murray Basin, South Australia. Quaternary Geochronology, 2/1-4: 51-56. Lomax, J., Hilgers, A., Wopfner, H., Gruen, R., Twidale, C.R., Radtke, U. (2003). The onset of dune formation in the Strzelecki Desert, South Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 22: 1067-1076. Preusser, F., Fiebig, M. (2009). European Middle Pleistocene loess chronostratigraphy: Some considerations based on evidence from the Wels site, Austria. Quaternary International 198/1-2: 37-45