Luminescence dating of cobbles from Pleistocene fluvial terrace deposits of the Ara River, Japan

Yuji Ishii, Takayuki Takahashi, Kazumi Ito

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Constraining the ages of fluvial terraces is essential to understanding fluvial responses to climate and sea-level changes and estimating uplift/incision. Luminescence dating of sand or silt grains from fluvial terrace deposits in Japan is difficult because sand layers are often absent from gravelly deposits, quartz grains are typically dominated by medium/slow components and/or contaminated by feldspars, and short transport distances and short residence times in riverbeds result in poor bleaching of luminescence signals. Luminescence dating of cobbles may overcome these difficulties, but few studies have applied this technique to fluvial terrace deposits. Here, we examine the utility of luminescence dating applied to three granodiorite cobbles from a late Pleistocene fluvial terrace deposit of the Ara River, Japan. We investigated variations of the infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) and post-IR IRSL signals with depth in each cobble. The IRSL and post-IR IRSL signals generally increase with depth, indicating that the cobbles were not completely bleached before deposition. Nonetheless, the IRSL ages of the cobble surfaces (19–17 ka) are consistent with the age of a tephra layer (16–15 ka) at the base of loess deposits overlying the terrace. In contrast, IRSL ages of sand-sized feldspar grains overestimate the depositional age because of incomplete bleaching, whereas silt-sized quartz grains greatly underestimate the depositional age, likely because of the thermal instability of the medium component. Our results demonstrate that luminescence dating of cobbles could provide a better understanding of fluvial systems in which luminescence dating of sand grains is difficult.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101228
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb


  • Burial dating
  • Climate change
  • Fluvial terrace
  • Japan
  • Rock surface luminescence dating


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