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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • bone;
  • aging;
  • soil;
  • burial;
  • infrared spectroscopy

Abstract

Infrared spectroscopy has been used to examine changes to bone chemistry as a result of soil burial. Pig carcasses were buried as part of a controlled field study, and pig bone was used in soil environments established in the laboratory. The variables of species type, bone pretreatment, soil type and pH, moisture content, temperature, and burial time were investigated. The crystallinity index (CI) and the organic and carbonate contents of the bones were monitored. The data revealed decreasing trends in the organic and carbonate contents and an increase in the CI of the bone with burial time. An acidic soil environment and soil type are the factors that have the most influence on bone chemistry as a result of burial. The study demonstrates the potential of infrared spectroscopy as a straightforward method of monitoring the changes associated with aging of bones in a variety of soil environments.