Molina, CM and Pringle, JK (2018) Comparison of geophysical and botanical results in simulated clandestine graves in rural and tropical environments in Colombia, South America. In: Forensic Soil Science and Geology. Geological Society of London, London.

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In most Latin American countries there are significant numbers of both missing people and forced disappearances, ~84,000 alone in Colombia. Successful detection of buried human remains by forensic search teams can be difficult in varying terrain and climates. This paper reports on the geophysical and botanical monitoring of simulated clandestine graves in two different environments over 24 months to establish optimal detection methods and equipment configurations. Twelve clandestine burials were simulated at three different burial depths (0.5m, 0.8 m and 1.2 m) commonly encountered in Latin America. The simulated targets were three pig carcasses, three human skeletons, three graves with burnt human beheaded skeletons and finally three empty graves to act as control. Geophysical detection methods included ground penetrating radar, magnetic susceptibility, bulk ground conductivity and electrical resistivity. Geophysical results showed apparent electrical resistivity was optimal to detect targets (85% success) in semi-rural areas and GPR was optimal to detect targets (92%) in tropical rainforest areas, followed by magnetic susceptibility and bulk ground conductivity. Botanical results evidenced variations in both study sites which should be noted by forensic search investigators, with rapid growth of Raphanus in the tropical rainforest graves and Malvaceae and Petiveria in the rural study site respectively. This paper shows the importance of conducting long-term controlled studies to assist forensic search teams with expected results and optimum equipment configuration(s).

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Geological Society of London at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher. This repository item will become available on 26 September 2019 - you may request a copy for personal, non-commercial, educational use using the "Request a copy" link above.
Uncontrolled Keywords: forensic geoscience, geophysics, forensic botany, Colombia
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
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Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2018 08:31
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2019 01:30

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