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Research Fields S3

Sediment dating

Changes in the dust content of the earth's atmosphere can be precisely dated for climate modelling by determining the mass accumulation rates in loess/paleo soil sequences. This also enables the reconstruction of past atmospheric circulation patterns. This range of methods can also be used to reveal the chronological details of topical questions concerning the dynamics of landscape systems, and the changes in the courses of rivers or shifts in coastlines in particular. Investigating the chronological succession of catastrophic storm floods and tsunamis in the earth’s most recent history in particular are of great societal importance. For instance, when combined with applied geophysical techniques, reconstructions are possible of coastal dunes or the fluviatile terraces in the Leine valley in four-dimensional visualisations, i.e. in time and space. These investigations are carried out in co-operation with universities and research institutes at home and abroad, as well as by state geological surveys.


The thermochronological investigations focus on determining the rate at which a rock cools down – which when converted, enables the exhumation rate to be determined. The work using ESR methods, on determining the temperature history of rocks are being intensified, e.g. looking at the Kurobe granite, the youngest plutonite in the earth's history from the Japanese Alps. The existing combination method has been further developed to be able to determine ages of up to ~ 2 million years. In addition, they are used as part of the "Geoenergy systems" main research activity to make a contribution to answering applied questions such as the simulation and combating of coal fires. Moreover, a recently developed combination of the ESR and luminescence method has been used to determine activity along fault zones. Active fault zones are also an archive recording the occurrence of repeatedly occurring major earthquakes. Every major earthquake gives rise as a minimum to the partial resetting of the luminescence and/or ESR signal. This hypothesis will be tested from the ratio between the natural signal to the saturation intensity in the various active fault zones in Japan with known earthquake activities.

[Translate to Englisch:] Datierungsmethoden

Dating methods using luminescence and electron spin resonance are made available to the two research fields "Sediment dating" and "Thermochronology".