Constraining the age and formation of stone runs in the Falkland Islands using Optically Stimulated Luminescence

The stone runs of the Falkland Islands are thought to be periglacial blockfields but their age and detailed origin remain enigmatic. We examine the fine sediments that underlie two stone runs in order to establish whether Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating is an appropriate technique to constrain the date of emplacement of the fine sediments and, hence, the stone runs. Six samples were collected from two accessible sections during the Scotia Centenary Antarctic expedition in 2003. All samples were used to explore the main luminescence characteristics of the sediment, followed by quartz SAR dating procedures on four of the samples. Age estimates range from in excess of 54 ka to 16 ka, suggesting that the overlying stone runs remained active until 16 ka or later. Saturation of luminescence from quartz limits age estimates for the oldest samples in the sequences, however these are not critical to define the upper limit to the emplacement age for the overlying stone runs. The sediments also contain feldspars and initial results suggest that these may be useful in extending the timescale further, but require further samples to be obtained from other parts of the sequence. Extending the method to other stone runs in the Port Stanley Formation may allow estimates of the age of stabilisation of the stone runs to be extended into the 1-250 ka timescale. Luminescence dating of the underlying sediments, used in conjunction with cosmogenic isotope dating of the surface boulders from a range of locations along the stone runs, appears to offer a useful route towards decoding the depositional history of these impressive deposits.


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Authors: Hansom, James D., Evans, David J.A., Sanderson, David C.W., Bingham, Robert G., Bentley, Michael J.

1 January, 2008
Geomorphology / 94
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