Detecting Submerged Bodies: Controlled Research Using Side-Scan Sonar to Detect Submerged Proxy Cadavers
Abbreviated Journal Title
J. Forensic Sci.
forensic science; geophysical search methods; side-scan sonar; submerged; bodies; water search methods; search methods; GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR; CLANDESTINE GRAVES; FORENSIC ARCHAEOLOGY; SEARCHES; BURIALS; Medicine, Legal
Forensic investigators routinely deploy side-scan sonar for submerged body searches. This study adds to the limited body of literature by undertaking a controlled project to understand how variables affect detection of submerged bodies using side-scan sonar. Research consisted of two phases using small and medium-sized pig (Sus scrofa) carcasses as proxies for human bodies to investigate the effects of terrain, body size, frequency, swath width, and state of decomposition. Results demonstrated that a clear, flat, sandy pond floor terrain was optimal for detection of the target as irregular terrain and/or vegetation are major limitations that can obscure the target. A higher frequency towfish was preferred for small bodies, and a 20m swath width allowed greater visibility and easier maneuverability of the boat in this environment. Also, the medium-sized carcasses were discernable throughout the 81-day study period, indicating that it is possible to detect bodies undergoing decomposition with side-scan sonar.
Journal of Forensic Sciences
"Detecting Submerged Bodies: Controlled Research Using Side-Scan Sonar to Detect Submerged Proxy Cadavers" (2015). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 6569.