Dr Debra Colarossi PhD (Aberystwyth)

Dr Debra Colarossi

Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Luminescence Dating

Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Contact Details


Debra joined the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences in 2021 as a post-doctoral researcher on the ERC-funded project EQuaTe. 

Debra holds undergraduate degrees in teaching (BEd 2006) and geology (BSc 2009) and an honours degree in geology (BSc Hons 2010). She completed a research masters at the University of the Witwatersrand using OSL dating to establish the timing of deposition of tributary fan sediments exposed in donga (gulley) systems in South Africa (MSc 2013). This led to her doctoral research at Aberystwyth University into the fundamental principles of luminescence dating and its application to determine the driving factors of deposition and erosion, and the switch between them, by accurately dating episodes recorded in Quaternary sediments (PhD 2017). Following completion of her doctorate, Debra accepted a post-doctoral research position in the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, where she focused on dating Middle Stone Age sites across the African continent.


My research focus is on optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. I am particularly interested in investigating the fundamental principles of multiple luminescence chronometers, with a view to extending the upper age range of the technique and ultimately applying OSL dating to geological and archaeological sites across Europe and Africa.

I have a strong background in luminescence dating and experience with multiple luminescence signals from both quartz and feldspar, including quartz OSL, quartz violet stimulated luminescence (VSL), quartz thermally-transferred OSL (TT-OSL), K-feldspar infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) and K-feldspar post-infrared IRSL (post-IR IRSL) at both multiple and single grain level. My strong luminescence background is complemented by extensive experience in geology, geomorphology and physical geography, having worked in numerous environmental and archaeological settings.


Colarossi, D, Duller, GAT & Roberts, HM 2024, 'Assessing whether a thermoluminescence peak at ∼100 °C in calcitic opercula can be used to monitor thermal reproducibility', Radiation Measurements. 10.1016/j.radmeas.2024.107115
Ranhorn, KL, Colarossi, D, Molel, S, Laird, MF, Lewis, JE, Mashaka, H, Niespolo, E, Porter, ST, Sawchuk, E, Sharp, WD, Tryon, CA & Patania, I 2023, Kisese II Rockshelter, Tanzania. in A Beyin, DK Wright, J Wilkins & DI Olszewski (eds), Handbook of Pleistocene Archaeology of Africa. Springer Nature, pp. 1069-1081. 10.1007/978-3-031-20290-2_70
Colarossi, D, Fewlass, H, Stahlschmidt, MC, Presnyakova, D, Matembo, J, Hein, M, Talamo, S & Archer, W 2022, 'A targeted drilling and dating campaign to identify Stone Age archaeological sites before excavation in west coast southern Africa', Quaternary Geochronology, vol. 71, 101314. 10.1016/j.quageo.2022.101314
Penkman, KEH, Duller, GAT, Roberts, HM, Colarossi, D, Dickinson, MR & White, D 2022, 'Dating the Paleolithic: Trapped charge methods and amino acid geochronology', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 119, no. 43, e2109324119. 10.1073/pnas.2109324119
Patania, I, Porter, ST, Keegan, WF, Dihogo, R, Frank, S, Lewis, J, Mashaka, H, Ogutu, J, Skosey-lalonde, E, Tryon, CA, Niespolo, EM, Colarossi, D & Ranhorn, KL 2022, 'Geoarchaeology and Heritage Management: Identifying and Quantifying Multi-Scalar Erosional Processes at Kisese II Rockshelter, Tanzania', Frontiers in Earth Science, vol. 9, 665193. 10.3389/feart.2021.665193
More publications on the Research Portal