This grant provides partial salary support over a five year period for a laboratory technician in a recently established luminescence geochronology lab at Utah State University (USU). The USU luminescence geochronology lab houses a new optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) reader capable of single grain measurements. The instrument was acquired with funds from a charitable donation and the lab is now fully operational for dating the "burial" age (or date of last exposure to sunlight) of minerals, most commonly quartz sands. Research applications that rely on the OSL technique include dating of river and beach deposits, landslides and fired pottery, especially where no contemporary organic materials are available or where the burial ages exceed the radiocarbon dating maximum of ca. 50 Ka. OSL is unique dating tool for Quaternary geomorphology and few OSL labs exist in the U.S. This technical position will advance the goals of the lab which include expanding applications of OSL for studies in geomorphology, geohazards, and geoarchaeology, and to support student training and research.


Project Report

" NSF support from the Instrumentation and Facilities program was granted to further develop research infrastructure at the Utah State University (USU) Luminescence Laboratory. Funding provided partial salary support for Dr Rittenour, originally the Lab Manager and now the Lab Director. This salary support allowed the growth and develop of the new USU Luminescence Lab (developed in 2007) and in-part provided a mechanism for Dr. Rittenour to be hired as tenure-track faculty at USU. The expertise of Dr. Rittenour in luminescence dating has greatly enhanced the collaborations and geologic age dating products produced by this research and service lab. In part due to NSF-IF support the USU Luminescence Lab has been involved in ~120 collaborative and internal projects which include ~920 samples at this point. Research objectives in these projects range from understanding landscape response to past climate change, reconstructing earthquake recurrence intervals, dating river terrace deposits to understand incision rates and dating archaeological sites and artifacts. The USU Luminescence Lab is one of about a dozen luminescence labs in the US and is the only lab of its type in the Intermountain West (there is a non-university based lab at the Desert Research Institute in Reno NV). As such, the USU Luminescence Lab has the ability to offer access to research facilities and equipment not readily available to most geologists and archaeologists in the US. As a result of NSF-IF funding, the USU Luminescence Lab has been able to offer an annual OSL Short Course in Luminescence Dating (the only one of its kind in the US) and has hosted at least 50 visiting students and scientists. Results of research and activities related to NSF-IF funding have been presented to the public as conference presentations (42), journal articles (8), newspaper articles and public radio interviews (5) and the Lab hosts a web page where information about the luminescence dating technique and Lab activities are posted.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Earth Sciences (EAR)
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Russell C. Kelz
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Utah State University
United States
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