Soil temperature calculation for burial site analysis

Prangnell, Jonathan and McGowan, Glenys (2009) Soil temperature calculation for burial site analysis. Forensic Science International, 191 1-3: 104-109. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.07.002

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Author Prangnell, Jonathan
McGowan, Glenys
Title Soil temperature calculation for burial site analysis
Journal name Forensic Science International   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0379-0738
Publication date 2009-10
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.07.002
Volume 191
Issue 1-3
Start page 104
End page 109
Total pages 6
Editor R. Saukko
Place of publication Shannon, Co. Clare, Ireland
Publisher Elsevier Ireland
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
210102 Archaeological Science
950503 Understanding Australia's Past
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Abstract The effect of air and water temperature upon the decomposition of human remains and upon biological activity has been extensively studied. However, less attention has been devoted to the temperature of the soil surrounding burials, despite its potential influence upon chemical reactions involved in the decomposition of human remains, drugs and toxins, as well as upon microbial and insect activity. A soil temperature calculation equation usually employed in civil engineering was used to calculate soil temperature at various depths in a cemetery located in Brisbane, Australia, in order to explain the extensive degradation of human remains and funerary objects observed at exhumation. The results showed that for the 160 years of the site's history, ground temperature at burial level had been sufficiently high for biological activity and chemical degradation reactions to continue right up until the time of exhumation. The equation used has potential in the analysis of both cemetery and clandestine burials, since it allows ground temperature to be calculated from ambient air temperature figures, for a variety of depths, soil types and vegetation conditions.
Keyword Soil
North Brisbane Burial Ground
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
ERA 2012 Admin Only
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 24 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 12 Nov 2009, 12:03:48 EST by Mr Andrew Martlew on behalf of School of Social Science