Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dating as a Geochronological Tool for Late Quaternary Sediments in the Red Sea Region

  • David C. W. SandersonEmail author
  • Timothy C. Kinnaird


This chapter concerns the use of luminescence methods as geochronological tools for dating Late Quaternary sediments in the Red Sea region. The dating methods all use stimulated luminescence to register signals developed in mineral systems in response to long term exposure to ionising radiation in the environment. The principles of luminescence dating are outlined followed by discussion of its application to the Arabian Peninsula, where, particularly in SE Arabia and parts of the interior, a growing corpus of work is emerging, which is helping to define past arid or humid periods of importance to palaeoclimatology and to archaeology. Turning to the Red Sea, studies conducted within the DISPERSE project are presented both in marine and terrestrial settings. The motivation for much of this work concerns definition of the environmental conditions and chronologies for hominin and human dispersion through Arabia. Data are presented which identify, for the first time, late Pleistocene evidence on the inner continental shelf near the Farasan Islands, using material from the 2013 cruise of RV AEGAEO. Results are also presented from the littoral fringe of southwest Saudi Arabia, identifying units associated with MIS5 which have palaeo-environmental and archaeological significance. It is to be hoped that further research in coming decades will continue to extend the regional chronology for the littoral fringe of the Red Sea. In this respect, luminescence dating has the potential to help define the environmental history of this important area, to assist with assigning marine and terrestrial features into unique stages of Quaternary climate cycles, and to promote better understanding of human-environment interactions in this dynamic area.



The work presented in the section on luminescence dating and DISPERSE was supported by ERC Advanced Grant 269586 DISPERSE (Dynamic Landscapes, Coastal Environments and Hominin Dispersals) and by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) through its President, Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and his staff. The support, involvement and contributions from Prof. Geoff Bailey, Dr. Dimitris Sakellariou and Dr. Robyn Inglis are gratefully acknowledged. Dr. Alan Cresswell, Dr. Lorna Carmichael and Mr. Simon Murphy are also acknowledged for their help in the laboratory. The work presented here formed an invited presentation at the Jeddah workshop on the Geological Setting, Oceanography and Environment of the Red Sea, held in February 2016. We would like to thank the Saudi Geological Survey, and particularly Dr. Najeeb Rasul, for hosting this workshop and supporting the publication. This is DISPERSE contribution no. 44.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. W. Sanderson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Timothy C. Kinnaird
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)East KilbrideUK
  2. 2.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of St. AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  3. 3.School of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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