Trapped-charge thermochronometry and thermometry: A status review

Georgina E. King*, Benny Guralnik, Pierre G. Valla, Frédéric Herman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Trapped-charge dating methods including luminescence and electron spin resonance dating have high potential as low temperature (<100 °C) thermochronometers. Despite an early proof of concept almost 60 years ago, it is only in the past two decades that thermoluminescence (TL), electron-spin-resonance (ESR), and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), have begun to gain momentum in geological thermochronometry and thermometry applications. Here we review the physics of trapped-charge dating, the studies that led to its development and its first applications for deriving palaeo-temperatures and/or continuous cooling histories. Analytical protocols, which enable the derivation of sample specific kinetic parameters over laboratory timescales, are also described. The key limitation of trapped-charge thermochronometry is signal saturation, which sets an upper limit of its application to <1 Ma, thus restricting it to rapidly exhuming terrains (> 200 °C Ma− 1), or elevated-temperature underground settings (> 30 °C). Despite this limitation, trapped-charge thermochronometry comprises a diverse suite of versatile methods, and we explore potential future applications and research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-17
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Electron spin resonance (ESR)
  • Infra-red stimulated luminescence (IRSL)
  • Low-temperature thermochronometry
  • Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL)
  • Thermoluminescence (TL)
  • Thermometry
  • Trapped-charge dating

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