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Sequential Monitoring of Burials Containing Small Pig Cadavers Using Ground Penetrating Radar

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Abstract: 

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) was used to monitor 12 pig burials in Florida, each of which contained a small pig cadaver. Six of the cadavers were buried in sand at a depth of 0.50–0.60 m, and the other six were buried in sand at a depth of 1.00–1.10 m to represent deep and shallow burials that are generally encountered in forensic scenarios. Four control excavations with no pig interment were also constructed as blank graves and monitored with GPR. The burials were monitored for durations of either 13 or 21 months, and were then excavated to correlate the decomposition state of the cadaver with the GPR imagery. Overall, this study demonstrated that it may be difficult to detect small cadavers buried in sand soon after they are skeletonized because the area surrounding the body, or the grave, may not provide a strong enough contrasting area to be detected by GPR when compared to that of the surrounding undisturbed soil. Also, depth of burial appears to influence grave detection because bodies that are buried at deeper depths may be detected for a longer period of time due to reduced decomposition rates.
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Keywords: forensic anthropology; forensic archaeology; forensic science; ground-penetrating radar; pig cadavers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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