Luminescence dating sampling at Cherry Orchard Farm, near Delamere

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By Richard Chiverrell

Another day and another quarry, but this time the BriticeChrono Terrestrial team Rich Chiverrell and Matt Burke met up with some friends, with luminescence dating team Geoff Duller and Holly Wynne from Aberystwyth and stratigraphic geru Geoff Thomas to tackle the delights of rural Cheshire, Transect 3. Breaking all the rules for BriticeChrono quarry investigations the sun was out and not a snowflake in sight or site for that matter. Cherry Orchard Farm is one of a series of sand and gravel quarries to the east of the mid-Cheshire Sandstone Ridge, recently sampled for cosmogenic nuclide (CN) dating.

The site (location 17 on the map) makes an intriging pair with cosmogenic nuclide location ‘Urchin’s Kitchen’ (location 16), a deeply incised bedrock channel eroded subglacially. We hope to compare the performance of luminescence and CN dating techniques with pairings like this. The setting contains numerous the active and former sand and gravel extraction sites around Delamere Forest, and is located on an extensive (8x5km) gently undulating triangular terrace or bench raised >10m above the floodplains of the Weaver Basin. The terrace is fed by channels flowing from the Sandstone Ridge and presumably a former ice margin on the southern edge of zone 5 (see the map).

Quarry operator (Richard Wilding) was fanastically co-operative and allowed us full access to the sections which reveal shallow water sandur and fine-grained glaciolacustrine sands. The sands were a dream to sample, well sorted, stratified, the right grain size for luminescence dating and with excellent exposure throughout the section. Four samples were taken arrayed vertically through the sequence, though probably almost identical in age given the depositional environment, we sampled different lithofacies or depositional environments. The lengthly process was completed in 5 hours, it takes 60 minutes to record the gamma dosimetry (with a field gamma spectrometer) for each sample, which gave plenty of time for discussion, strategy and logging. Then for some differing journeys home, it can’t take that long to drive to Aberystwyth can it?! Can’t wait for the dates and the next phase of sampling on transect 3…..

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