Understanding the geomorphology left by waxing and waning of former glaciers and ice sheets during the late Quaternary has been the focus of much research. This has been hampered by the difficulty in dating such features. Luminescence has the potential to be applied to glacial sediments but requires signal resetting prior to burial in order to provide accurate ages. This paper explores the possibility that, rather than relying on light to reset the luminescence signal, glacial processes underneath ice might cause resetting. Experiments were conducted on a ring-shear machine set up to replicate subglacial conditions and simulate the shearing that can occur within subglacial sediments. Luminescence measurement at the single grain level indicates that a number (albeit small) of zero-dosed grains were produced and that these increased in abundance with distance travelled within the shearing zone. Observed changes in grain shape characteristics with increasing shear distance indicate the presence of localised high pressure grain-to-grain stresses caused by grain bridges. This appears to explain why some grains became zeroed whilst others retained their palaeodose. Based on the observed experimental trend, it is thought that localised grain stress is a viable luminescence resetting mechanism. As such relatively short shearing distances might be sufficient to reset a small proportion of the luminescence signal within subglacial sediments. Dating of previously avoided subglacial sediments may therefore be possible.
Geomorphology – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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