Abstract

This research involves the examination of the contribution of stable isotope analysis to the forensic anthropological objective of human identification. Oxygen isotopes, which vary in water in a predictable manner according to climatological and geographical factors, can be used to determine the region of origin of an unidentified individual following isotopic analysis of human skeletal remains. However, stable oxygen isotopes from human remains recovered from various aqueous environments may be altered by diagenetic processes that occur following deposition. The focus of this research is to determine potential diagenetic changes in the oxygen isotopic value (d18O) of Sus scrofa (domestic pig) ribs, used as a proxy for human remains. Bone samples (n=50) were exposed to different aqueous environments, including distilled water, fresh water, and brackish water, for a period of one, three, and six months, simulating distinct aqueous conditions that may be encountered by forensic anthropologists working in Florida. Results of this study suggest that submersion in fresh, brackish, and distilled can significantly alter the isotopic composition of bone over a period of six months. However, the observed significant shifts in isotopic composition occur over only a 1‰ range, suggesting that oxygen isotopic data derived from bone that was previously submerged in low salinity water for six months or less may be cautiously used to narrow the geographic origin of unidentified individuals in forensic investigations. This study provides a meaningful contribution to forensic research regarding stable isotope analysis as well as the body of literature regarding early diagenetic changes in aqueous contexts.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2021

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Toyne, J. Marla

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Anthropology

Degree Program

Anthropology

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0008497; DP0024173

URL

https://purls.library.ucf.edu/go/DP0024173

Language

English

Release Date

May 2022

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)

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