Luminescence as a Sediment Tracer and Provenance Tool
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Luminescence as a Sediment Tracer and Provenance Tool

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  • Journal Title:
    Reviews Of Geophysics
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    Luminescence holds unique potential as a sediment tracer and provenance method. The tracer application of luminescence has key advantages including ease of measurement, relatively low cost, and applicability to geologically ubiquitous quartz and feldspar sand and silt. These advantages can help answer fundamental questions about geomorphology, sediment transport, sediment production, and the tectonic/climatic controls on source‐to‐sink sedimentary systems. There is a notable body of research on luminescence as a sediment tracer. These tracer methods range from identifying source locations based on unique luminescence characteristics, to observing changes in luminescence characteristics with transport, to using residual luminescence to infer rates of transport. Previous applications of luminescence include provenance and quantification of fluvial transport rate, tracing of coastal longshore drift, estimations of mixing rates in soil or sediment, and provenance of wind‐blown deposits. The few studies that compare luminescence methods with nonluminescence tracer methods show good agreement. However, more work is needed to test the application of luminescence tracers in sediments. Future research directions should focus on comparing luminescence‐based with nonluminescence tracer methods. Furthermore, research is needed on the effects of specific geomorphic processes on luminescence characteristics and residual doses. While there is significant potential for future research, luminescence is already a useful sediment tracer and provenance tool applicable to a wide range of geomorphic environments.

    Plain Language Summary

    We live on a surface that is constantly changing. These changes occur as sediment is moved around by various forces in the environment. We want to be better able to predict sediment movement so we can minimize its negative effects. Examples of these negative effects include erosion of soil on farms, filling of reservoirs we use for water with sediment, and pollution of sediment in waterways and ecosystems. To get better at predicting negative effects, we need to know how fast sediment moves and where it comes from. Some techniques scientists use to answer these questions include using unique properties of sand grains to track their movement. However, there is not a technique that works for every environment, so we have to develop new techniques to expand our capability. In this paper, we review the use of luminescence, a property that changes in sunlight, to track the movements of sediment. Luminescence is not commonly used as a sediment tracker but shows lots of potential. We outline the past uses of luminescence as a sediment tracker and describe the future research that is needed to improve its use as a tool for scientists.

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    Reviews of Geophysics, 57(3), 987-1017
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