How to Sample

OSL/IRSL sampling of sand-sized sediment with an opaque metal tube is the most common method for sampling. We describe the details here for collecting samples from sandy deposits at vertical exposures, for other sample types and collection methods, please see our applications section.


Collect equivalent dose sample (in opaque metal tube)

Place the sharpened end of the tube, with a styrofoam plug, at the target point.

  • target fine-medium sand with original sedimentary structure
  • avoiding bioturbation and soil
  • if possible, sample a thick unit with relatively uniform sediment within a foot radius
  • sample depth MUST be >1 m below the landform top to minimize cosmogenic dose errors

Pound sample tube into outcrop until you feel/hear change indicating tube is full.
The tube must be full and packed tightly to avoid mixing during transport.

Sample rock 1


Extract tube and sample surrounding sediment for dose rate

Sample for the environmental dose rate into a 1-quart ziplock freezer bag. Never use canvas rock sample bags because very fine particles will dissipate from the sample bag.
Representatively capture sediment from 30 cm radius surrounding the sample, while excavating tube.

If heterogenous sediment is within 30 cm, collect representative samples from each unique horizon and record the distance to the DE sample.

With open end of tube carefully pointed up, pack any extra space with more sediment, packing lightly. If greater than 1-cm needs to be added, lay a strip of duct tape in to mark beginning of sample before filling and record this on sample sheet and notes.

Place cap on end and tape both vertically and horizontally with at least two layers of duct tape. Turn tube over, removing pounding cap, fill if necessary, cap and tape.

Label tube, moisture sample and dose rate bag with a sharpie. Give samples individual labels, relatively simple in the scheme, that relate to your specific project, not OSL-1. Clear packaging tape may be useful to avoid wearing off label.
Sample rock put in bagTape pipe ducktape

Moisture content sample

Sample horizon for moisture content using an airtight container, fill completely.

Collect sediment farthest point within outcrop once tube is extracted.
Note evidence for ground or vadose water and describe expected water content history of the sampled deposit.


Measurements, photos, sketches – context!

Stratigraphic context is important, of course. Depth of burial below the landform surface is needed to calculate cosmic dose rate. If there has been recent erosion or excavation, estimate original depth. If the sample was collected from a deposit indicating incremental accumulation and burial, make notes of the depth and significance of buried soil-surfaces. Record latitude, longitude, and elevation of the sample, also for calculation of the cosmic dose rate. Finally, record any other sedimentological observations of possible interest.

NOTE: Clast-supported and coarse-grain deposits will be difficult to impossible for tube-style collection. See methods for these types of deposits here.



Step 6: Shipping

When shipping samples, please let us know the courier and tracking number. Cardboard boxes with heavy samples often arrive ripped and crushed. Please consider using heavy-duty external packaging with an internal support structure, such as a cooler.

For international samples, send samples through an international shipping company such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, or TNT. We do not recommend the local postal service for international shipping.

Send Samples To:
USU Luminescence Lab
1770 North Research Parkway, Suite 123
North Logan, UT 84341

All samples should be labeled 'Light-sensitive mineral samples for geologic analysis. All material will be consumed in analysis. No monetary value'.

Email tracking number to Tammy or Michelle.