The effect of the method of burial on adipocere formation

  • Forbes S
  • Stuart B
  • Dent B
  • 82

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Abstract

A controlled laboratory experiment was conducted in order to investigate the effect of the method of burial (i.e. the presence of coffin and clothing) on the formation of adipocere. This study follows previous studies by the authors who have investigated the effect of physical conditions on the formation of adipocere present in a controlled burial environment. The study utilises infrared spectroscopy to provide a preliminary lipid profile of the remains following a 12 month decomposition period. Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry was employed as a technique for determining the salts of fatty acids present in adipocere. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used as the confirmatory test for the identification and determination of the chemical composition of adipocere which formed in the controlled burial environments. The results suggest that coffins will retard the rate at which adipocere forms but that clothing enhances its formation. The results concur with previous observations on adipocere formation in burial environments. © 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adipocere
  • Burial environment
  • Clothing
  • Coffin
  • Fatty acids
  • Plastic bag

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Authors

  • Shari L. Forbes

  • Barbara H. Stuart

  • Boyd B. Dent

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