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GPR and bulk ground resistivity surveys in graveyards: Locating unmarked burials in contrasting soil types

Hansen, James D.; Pringle, Jamie K.; Goodwin, Jon

GPR and bulk ground resistivity surveys in graveyards: Locating unmarked burials in contrasting soil types Thumbnail


Authors

James D. Hansen

Jon Goodwin



Abstract

With graveyards and cemeteries globally being increasingly designated as full, there is a growing need to identify unmarked burial positions to find burial space or exhume and re-inter if necessary. In some countries, for example the U.S. and U.K., burial sites are not usually re-used; however, most graveyard and cemetery records do not have maps of positions. One non-invasive detection method is near-surface geophysics, but there has been a lack of research to-date on optimal methods and/or equipment configuration. This paper presents three case studies in contrasting burial environments, soil types, burial styles and ages in the U.K. Geophysical survey results reveal unmarked burials could be effectively identified from these case studies that were not uniform or predicted using 225 MHz frequency antennae GPR 2D 0.5 m spaced profiles. Bulk ground electrical surveys, rarely used for unmarked burials, revealed 1 m probe spacings were optimal compared to 0.5 m, with datasets needing 3D detrending to reveal burial positions. Results were variable depending upon soil type; in very coarse soils GPR was optimal; whereas resistivity was optimal in clay-rich soils and both were optimal in sandy and black earth soils. Archaeological excavations revealed unmarked burials, extra/missing individuals from parish records and a variety of burial styles from isolated, brick-lined, to vertically stacked individuals. Study results, evidence unmarked burial targets were significantly different from clandestine burials of murder victims which are used as analogues.

Citation

Hansen, J. D., Pringle, J. K., & Goodwin, J. (2014). GPR and bulk ground resistivity surveys in graveyards: Locating unmarked burials in contrasting soil types. Forensic Science International, 237, e14 - e29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.01.009

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 20, 2014
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2014
Publication Date 2014-04
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal Forensic Science International
Print ISSN 0379-0738
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 237
Pages e14 - e29
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.01.009
Keywords Graves, Burials, Geophysics, GPR, Resistivity

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