Loess sediment was prepared and characterized with well-established K, Th and U contents, and corresponding 40K, 232Th and 235,238U activities, intended for use as a reference material in the annual radiation dose determination for luminescence dating.
To this purpose, loess was collected in Volkegem, Belgium, and — after drying, pulverizing and homogenizing — characterized
via k0-INAA and HPGe gamma-ray spectrometry. This led to 12 kg material with a grain size below 50 μm, with established K, Th and
U homogeneity, with the 232Th and 238U decay series proven to be in equilibrium, and with the following K, Th and U reference data: K = 16.5±1.5 g·kg−1 (40K = 497±45 Bq·kg−1); Th = 10.4±0.6 mg·kg−1 (232Th = 42.2±2.5 Bq·kg−1); U = 2.79±0.12 mg·kg−1 (238U = 34.5±1.5 Bq·kg−1; 235U = 1.59±0.09 Bq·kg−1; 235+238U = 36.1±1.7 Bq·kg−1). These data were confirmed via comparison with the results from NaI(Tl) field gamma-ray spectrometry, thick-source ZnS alpha-counting
and thick-source GM beta-counting (after converting all data to Gy·ka−1). The reference material is available (as aliquots up to 200 g) from the Ghent Luminescence Laboratory to all interested
luminescence dating laboratories upon motivated request.