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By extracting sediment cores from the clam garden terrace and wall researchers are helping determine when clam gardens on Quadra Island were first constructed and how they were maintained through time.

Optically stimulated luminescence is a method of determining the age of burial of quartz or feldspar bearing sediments based upon principles of radiation and excitation within crystal lattices, and stems from the fact that imperfections in a crystal lattice have the ability to store ionizing energy (Radiation is absorbed by the crystal lattice upon sediment burial, and over time, excites electrons causing them to migrate within the crystal and become stored in traps resulting from crystal lattice defects.

It gives an Exposure Age: that is, how long the rock has been exposed to cosmic radiation.

Radiocarbon dating dates the decay of Carbon-14 within organic matter.

Organic matter needs to have been buried and preserved for this technique. It assumes that organic material is not contaminated with older radiocarbon (which, for example, is a common problem with organic material from marine sediment cores around Antarctica).

sand dunes, beaches, river beds, etc.) and artefacts that are up to 500,000 years old.

This helps us, not only to understand how the earth’s surface responds to shifts in long- and short-term climate, but also the history of human settlement and migration.

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