Application of OSL Dating to Middle to Late Holocene Arroyo Sediments in Kanab Creek, Southern Utah, USA

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Quaternary Geochronology




Elsevier BV

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Middle to late Holocene alluvium, identified as Quaternary alluvial unit 4 (Qa4), along Kanab Creek in southern Utah, USA was dated using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) on quartz sand, and by radiocarbon dating of detrital charcoal. Entrenchment beginning in 1882 AD created arroyo walls that expose up to 35 m of the Qa4 alluvium. The stratigraphy and sedimentology suggest that fluvial aggradation along the study reach occurred rapidly. Due to the high sediment supply, short transport distances and semi-arid climate with flashy discharge, partial bleaching (zeroing) of the luminescence signal was expected to be a problem for OSL dating. We approached this problem by first using small-aliquot (∼20 grains) and single-grain dating of quartz sand to reduce the number of grains contributing to the OSL signal. Second, we used statistical parameters based on single-grain and small-aliquot equivalent dose (De) distributions of bleached sediment to help identify partial bleaching and to inform if a minimum age model (MAM) should be used for age calculation. Comparison of results with radiocarbon ages demonstrates the success of OSL dating on Kanab Creek arroyo-fill deposits, although careful attention should be paid to the sedimentary facies and stratigraphy of the targeted sample horizon to minimize the effects of partial bleaching. Thin, decimeter-scale plane-bedded and ripple cross-bedded sandy lithofacies were found to be the best target for OSL dating, as these sediments showed minimal evidence for incomplete solar resetting. Additionally, results generally indicate that better-bleached sediments are found in downstream reaches. Age control from these arroyo-fill deposits was acquired in order to fulfill larger research goals of understanding regional arroyo incision and aggradation cycles.

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