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the emission of a characteristic colour of light) when stimulated.

With this bleaching effect removed, the influence, albeit often weak, of naturally-occurring radioactive elements (primarily potassium-40, uranium and thorium) within the sediment together with incoming cosmic rays results in the accumulation of a signal within individual mineral grains (most commonly quartz and feldspars).

It is this signal that is the key to luminescence dating techniques.

Given an estimate of the rate of received ionizing radiation (the dose rate, or D), and knowing the total accumulated dose (the palaeodose; designated D This accumulated signal results in luminescence (i.e.

The exposure to radioactive elements continues, and the minerals begin again storing free electrons in their structures.

If you can measure the rate of acquisition of the stored energy, you can figure out how long it has been since the exposure happened.

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