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Strontium and Geolocation, the Pathway to Identification for Deceased Undocumented Mexican Border-Crossers: A Preliminary Report

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Abstract: 

Much of the difficulty associated with identifying and repatriating deceased undocumented border-crossers stems from an inability to narrow down the search area to more probable options. Analysis of the isotopic variation in the tooth enamel of modern Mexican populations is currently underway at the University of California Santa Cruz. Using Thermo Ionization Mass Spectrometry, the pilot research analyzed strontium isotopes located in the donated permanent teeth of Mexican-born individuals of known origin from four states. The preliminary results reveal the formation of three distinctly significant regions in the data set. Using the technology outlined here, a map documenting the isotopic variation in modern Mexican tooth enamel is being complied to use for cross comparison with deceased border crossers of unknown origin.
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Keywords: border deaths; forensic sciences; immigrants; isotopes; repatriation; strontium

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Forensic Osteological Investigations Laboratory, Department of Anthropology, Social Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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