Dating of Lower Terrace sediments from the Middle Rhine area, Germany
Modern and known-age Pleistocene fluvial sediments were investigated by optical dating of quartz to test the suitability of the approach for dating deposits from the deeply incised Middle Rhine Valley. Samples from modern flood sediments revealed skewed distributions indicating different residual levels of equivalent dose (De) within the different aliquots. Nevertheless, a substantial number of aliquots from the modern deposits reflect De values close to zero. For the Pleistocene samples, optical ages are in general consistent with age control given by the presence of the Laacher See Tephra and radiocarbon dating. However, some samples overestimate the known age by a few thousand years when using the arithmetic mean. This is apparently explained by including aliquots in the determination of mean De where the optical signal was incompletely bleached at deposition. The most difficult issue in this context is identifying a suitable approach that can distinguish between the variability of De due to partial bleaching and microdosimetry. However, even when considering these limitations it appears that optical dating will by a quite suitable method to date Pleistocene sediments from such a complex fluvial environment, especially when focusing on a precision scale beyond a few thousand years.
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