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Title: A novel application of terrestrial LIDAR to characterize elevation change at human grave surfaces in support of narrowing down possible unmarked grave locations

Abstract

Unmarked graves are difficult to locate once the ground surface no longer shows visible evidence of disturbance, posing significant challenges to missing person investigations. This research evaluates the use of terrestrial LIDAR point data for measuring localized elevation change at human grave surfaces. Three differently sized human graves, one control-pit, and surrounding undisturbed ground, were scanned four times between February 2013 and November 2014 using a tripod-mounted terrestrial laser scanner. All the disturbed surfaces exhibited measurable and localized elevation change, allowing for separation of disturbed and undisturbed ground. In conclusion, this study is the first to quantify elevation changes to human graves over time and demonstrates that terrestrial LIDAR may contribute to multi-modal data collection approach to improve unmarked grave detection.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [4]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  2. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States); Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  4. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Springfield, VA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1458373
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Forensic Science International
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 289; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0379-0738
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
47 OTHER INSTRUMENTATION; Forensic archaeology; Remote sensing; LIDAR; Grave detection

Citation Formats

Corcoran, Katie A., Mundorff, Amy Z., White, Devin A., and Emch, Whitney L. A novel application of terrestrial LIDAR to characterize elevation change at human grave surfaces in support of narrowing down possible unmarked grave locations. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.05.038.
Corcoran, Katie A., Mundorff, Amy Z., White, Devin A., & Emch, Whitney L. A novel application of terrestrial LIDAR to characterize elevation change at human grave surfaces in support of narrowing down possible unmarked grave locations. United States. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.05.038
Corcoran, Katie A., Mundorff, Amy Z., White, Devin A., and Emch, Whitney L. Wed . "A novel application of terrestrial LIDAR to characterize elevation change at human grave surfaces in support of narrowing down possible unmarked grave locations". United States. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.05.038. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1458373.
@article{osti_1458373,
title = {A novel application of terrestrial LIDAR to characterize elevation change at human grave surfaces in support of narrowing down possible unmarked grave locations},
author = {Corcoran, Katie A. and Mundorff, Amy Z. and White, Devin A. and Emch, Whitney L.},
abstractNote = {Unmarked graves are difficult to locate once the ground surface no longer shows visible evidence of disturbance, posing significant challenges to missing person investigations. This research evaluates the use of terrestrial LIDAR point data for measuring localized elevation change at human grave surfaces. Three differently sized human graves, one control-pit, and surrounding undisturbed ground, were scanned four times between February 2013 and November 2014 using a tripod-mounted terrestrial laser scanner. All the disturbed surfaces exhibited measurable and localized elevation change, allowing for separation of disturbed and undisturbed ground. In conclusion, this study is the first to quantify elevation changes to human graves over time and demonstrates that terrestrial LIDAR may contribute to multi-modal data collection approach to improve unmarked grave detection.},
doi = {10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.05.038},
journal = {Forensic Science International},
number = C,
volume = 289,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {6}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: The study area, adjacent to the William M. Bass Forensic Anthropology Building (west) and the Tennessee River (northeast) in Knoxville, TN. Image: Google Earth.

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Works referenced in this record:

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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Testing Application of Geographical Information Systems, Forensic Geomorphology and Electrical Resistivity Tomography to Investigate Clandestine Grave Sites in Colombia, South America
    journal, August 2019

    • Molina, Carlos Martin; Wisniewski, Kristopher D.; Drake, Jonathan
    • Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 65, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.14168