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Using ninhydrin to detect gravesoil

Carter, D. O., Yellowlees, D. and Tibbett, M. ORCID: (2008) Using ninhydrin to detect gravesoil. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53 (2). pp. 397-400. ISSN 0022-1198

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2008.00681.x


Some death scene investigations commence without knowledge of the location of the body and/or decomposition site. In these cases, it is necessary to locate the remains or the site where the body decomposed prior to movement. We hypothesized that the burial of a mammalian cadaver will result in the release of ninhydrin reactive nitrogen (NRN) into associated soil and that this reaction might have potential as a tool for the identification of clandestine graves. Juvenile rat (Rattus rattus) cadavers were buried in three contrasting soil types in Australian tropical savanna ecosystems and allowed to decompose over a period of 28 days. Soils were sequentially harvested and analyzed for NRN. Cadaver burial resulted in an approximate doubling (mean = 1.7 ± 0.1) in the concentration of soil NRN. This reaction has great potential to be used as a presumptive test for gravesoil and this use might be greatly enhanced following more detailed research.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:44918

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