Jervis, JR, Pringle, JK ORCID:, Cassella, JP and Tuckwell, GT (2009) Using soil and groundwater to understand resistivity surveys over a simulated clandestine grave. 271 - 284.

Using soil and groundwater data to understand resistivity surveys over a simulated clandestine grave (JPringle).pdf

Download (6MB) | Preview


Geophysical electrical resistivity surveys have been used in a number of attempts to locate clandestine ‘shallow’ graves, based on the valid assumption that a grave may represent a contrast in the electrical properties of the ground compared to ‘background’ values. However, the exact causes of measurable geophysical signals associated with graves are not well understood, particularly for electrical methods. In this study, soil and groundwater samples have been obtained from a simulated grave containing a domestic pig (Sus domestica) carcass, in order to better understand how the presence of a grave may influence the bulk electrical properties of the soil. This information is used to explain observations based on repeat resistivity surveys over a period of 6 months over a second simulated grave at the same site. An area of low resistivity values was observed at the grave location in the survey data obtained from 4 to 20 weeks post-burial, with the grave being difficult to identify in survey data collected outside of this interval. The low resistivity grave anomaly appeared to be caused by highly conductive fluids released by the actively decomposing carcass and this is consistent with the relatively short timescale during which the grave was detectable. It is then suggested that the most appropriate time to use resistivity surveys in the search for a grave is during the period in which the cadaver is most likely to be undergoing active decomposition. However, other authors have observed low resistivity anomalies over much older graves and it is possible that, for graves in different environments, other factors may contribute to a detectable change in the bulk electrical properties of the soil.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ground Penetrate Radar; Resistivity Survey; Conductive Fluid; Groundwater Data; Electrical Resistivity Survey
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Physical and Geographical Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2014 10:04
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2019 14:40

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item