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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 229258 Find in a Library
Title: Effects of Soil Environment on Postmortem Interval: A Macroscopic Analysis
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:54  Issue:6  Dated:November 2009  Pages:1217-1222
Author(s): Kimberley A. Jaggers, H.B.Sc.; Tracy L. Rogers, Ph.D.
Date Published: November 2009
Page Count: 6
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This research determined the effects of soil moisture on the color, weight, condition, and texture of bone, whose degradation is important in estimations of the postmortem interval (PMI).
Abstract: There were three key findings. First, buried bone will lose mass over time, regardless of the soil moisture of the bone's environment. Second, bones in higher moisture environments will lose significantly more weight than those in a low moisture environment over 150 days (the 5 months set by the study). The explanation offered for this finding is that the greater loss of mass in a high moisture environment might be because of a loss of bone mineral or from leaching of chemicals from bone and the exchange of ions between bone and soil. Third, the results indicate that bones in a high moisture environment do not absorb significantly more water than those in a low moisture environment over 150 days. Macroscopic bone characteristics of color, texture, and condition did not change over 150 days, regardless of the soil environment in which they were buried. Two main conclusions are drawn from this finding. First at an average temperature of just above freezing, leg bones will not show a difference in color, texture, or condition after 150 days post-skeletonization. This poses the question of how much time is necessary for change in bone to occur at these temperatures. Second, the qualitative analysis indicates that the moisture content of soil has no significant effect on the color, texture, or condition of bone over a period of 150 days. Bone changes that occurred over the time intervals of 2 and 5 months were examined for 120 domestic pig leg bones. During each time interval, bones were buried in two soil environments, one being drier than the other. 1 table, 4 figures, and 26 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Death investigations; Environmental influences; Investigative techniques; Time of death determination
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