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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222351 Find in a Library
Title: Using Ninhydrin to Detect Gravesoil
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:53  Issue:2  Dated:March 2008  Pages:397-400
Author(s): David O. Carter Ph.D.; David Yellowlees Ph.D.; Mark Tibbett Ph.D.
Date Published: March 2008
Page Count: 4
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study tested the hypothesis that the burial of a mammal's cadaver (rat cadavers in the current study) would result in the release of ninhydrin reactive nitrogen (NRN) into the surrounding soil and that this reaction might have potential as a tool for identifying the locations of clandestine graves.
Abstract: The study found that cadaver burial resulted in a 1.4-2.2 increase in gravesoil NRN. The study, which was conducted in Australian tropical savanna ecosystems, located the burials in three contrasting soil types: Yabulu, Wambiana, and Pallarenda. Significantly greater NRN was observed in Yabulu and Wambiana gravesoil within 7 days of burial; however, this increase did not occur in Pallarenda gravesoil until day 14. Once elevated, the concentration of NRN in gravesoils remained constant until the end of the experiment (day 28). By this time, the cadaver had been skeletonized for a minimum of 14 days. The presence of high concentrations of NRN in soil does not confirm the presence of a human cadaver. The effects of cadaver mass on levels of NRN in gravesoil should be investigated to aid in the possible detection of a buried mammal in the ranges of various-sized human bodies. It is also necessary to explore other organic resources, such as fecal matter and plant litter, that can be associated with elevated levels of NRN. Currently, the presence of an elevated concentration of NRN in soil can only be a presumptive test for gravesoil. For this experiment, researchers buried juvenile rat cadavers in the three contrasting soil types, where they were left for 28 days. Soil samples were sequentially collected and analyzed for NRN. 1 table, 1 figure, and 28 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Australia; Death investigations; Forensic sciences; Homicide investigations; Homicide victims; Investigative techniques; Location
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