The Use of an Alternate Light Source for Detecting Bones Underwater*,†

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Abstract

When searching underwater crime scenes or disaster scenes for fragmentary human remains, it may be advantageous for forensic divers to be able to detect the presence of bones and teeth among other marine materials (such as shells and rocks). In terrestrial environments, this can typically be accomplished by visual and instrumental methods, but underwater conditions make it difficult to employ detection and sorting techniques in these environments. This study investigates fluorescence of bones and teeth and other marine materials using a submersible alternate light source (ALS) and concludes that an ALS can be a useful tool for detecting bones and teeth in underwater searches as well in terrestrial searches and laboratory environments. The results could impact the methods and equipment used by forensic divers and forensic anthropologists when searching for skeletal remains, potentially increasing the quantity and efficiency of forensic evidence recovered.

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