Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Searching for clandestine graves with geophysical tools

Date:
May 14, 2013
Source:
Keele University
Summary:
It's very hard to convict a murderer if the victim's body can't be found. And the best way to hide a body is to bury it. Developing new tools to find those clandestine graves is the goal of a small community of researchers spread across several countries.

It's very hard to convict a murderer if the victim's body can't be found. And the best way to hide a body is to bury it. Developing new tools to find those clandestine graves is the goal of a small community of researchers spread across several countries, some of whom are presenting their work on Tuesday, May 14, at the Meeting of the Americas in Cancún, Mexico, a scientific conference organized and co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union.

"Nowadays, there are thousands of missing people around the world that could have been tortured and killed and buried in clandestine graves," said Jamie Pringle, lecturer in geoscience at the School of Physical Sciences and Geography at Keele University in the U.K. "This is a huge problem for their families and governments that are responsible for the human rights for everybody. These people need to be found and the related crime cases need to be resolved."

Mostly, people throw resources at the search for clandestine graves and try to see what works best, said Pringle. But he and his colleagues Carlos Molina and Orlando Hernandez of the National University of Colombia in Bogota are among those trying to refine the techniques for finding mass graves, so that eventually there might be a reliable toolkit for not only finding bodies, but discovering details like the time of deaths and burials--all critical evidence for convicting murderers.

Previous studies on which Pringle has worked have involved simulated clandestine graves in the U.K. in which they buried pigs and then monitored soil gases, fluids and other physical changes over time. That research made it clear how much the detection of graves depends on understanding how corpses change in different soils and climates. This is being applied to active forensic cases throughout Europe.

International collaborations among forensic geophysicists have already proved helpful in cases such as the so-called IRA 'Disappeared' victims found on beaches in Northern Ireland and current work underway to detect Civil War mass graves in Spain.

In the latest project, being presented in a poster at the Cancún meeting, the researchers propose to bury pigs in eight different simulated clandestine mass grave scenarios in different soils and climates in Colombia. Then they will study the mass graves with geophysical methods like ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity, conductivity and magnetometry among others. Their plan is to survey the graves every eight days during the first month, 15 days in the second and third months, and monthly until 18 months have passed.

The data they collect will be used to map the mass graves and compare them, adjusting for site variables like soil type and rainfall. They also expect to compare their results with other studies and forensic cases.

"The project's integrated geophysical survey results will support the search for mass graves and thus help find missing people, bring perpetrators to justice and provide closure for families," said Molina.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Keele University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Keele University. "Searching for clandestine graves with geophysical tools." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514085200.htm>.
Keele University. (2013, May 14). Searching for clandestine graves with geophysical tools. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514085200.htm
Keele University. "Searching for clandestine graves with geophysical tools." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514085200.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins