Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)



First Advisor

F. D. Holland Jr


Thermoluminescence is the temperature dependence of phosphoroscence and is common to most carbonate rocks. Although the phenomenon has been known since at least 1663, its use in geology was not investigated until 1948.

Thermoluminescence results from the release of energy stored as displaced electrons in the crystal lattice. Thermal agitation of the displaced electrons causes them to give up part of their energy as light as they move back to their original positions in the lattice. The intensity of the light emitted is plotted as a function of temperature, resulting in a glow curve characteristic of the carbonate sample.

To date, the most promising uses of thermoluminescence in geology are in stratigraphic correlation and geologic age dating. Both short- and long-range correlations have been attempted. No figures pertaining to geologic age dating by this method have been published.

Results of investigations show that, while glow curve data may be of some value, many problems must be solved if the data are to prove reliable. In order to realize the possibilities of thermoluminescence as a geologic tool, chemical investigations, tectonic studies, and standardized procedures must be carried out and perfected. In the absence of such studies, thermoluminescence must remain a geologic aid of doubtful accuracy.