The UT mass grave project, Forensic Anthropology Center, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Developing a new non-invasive method to detect mass graves.
Dr. Amy Z. Mundorff : http://web.utk.edu/~anthrop/faculty/mundorff.html
The mass-grave research project will observe 10 bodies for three years, detecting changes in the ground and looking at multispectral imagery.
Researchers wanted to bury the 10 bodies on the south bank of Fort Loudoun Lake. They had to do it by hand.
One grave now holds the piled remains of six people. Another holds three, and another a single body.
A fourth was dug out and then refilled only with dirt, a control for the experiment.
For the next three years University of Tennessee scientists will monitor these fresh burial sites from the sky, from the ground, through sampling and in different light spectrums to determine if the mass graves can be detected from afar.
If the remote sensing technology they plan to use works, it could mean huge gains in the ability to uncover clandestine graves around the world and to prosecute the killers.
The bodies being used for the unique experiment are all among donations made to UT’s internationally famous Forensic Anthropology Center, or the “Body Farm.”
It is the oldest and most established of a handful of research facilities around the country dedicated to studying the decomposition of human remains. Before now, research at the facility has been mostly used to help law enforcement and to facilitate domestic criminal cases.
One technology, LiDAR, which is short for Light Detection and Ranging, uses a laser to trace the contours on the ground and look for subtle elevation changes. Initially, mass graves appear as mounds after they’re dug, but over time, as the human remains decompose, depressions form in the ground.
The other technology, multi-spectral imagery, can look at what’s being reflected off the ground in different light spectra, such as blue, green, red, infrared and so forth. Different materials are reflected across the spectrum with specific signatures, said Katie Corcoran, a lead graduate student at UT who is using the project for her dissertation.
“If you know vegetation looks a certain way, but in this image it looks different, maybe that’s because it’s disturbed,” Corcoran said. “And then on top of that is a layer of LiDAR data that shows an elevation difference, maybe a mound or a depression, and it happens to be the same spot. You can say maybe that this is a manmade disturbance. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to say this is a grave.”
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2013/apr/1 ... orpses-in/
Videos: April 13, 2013
Body of Evidence - UT's mass grave project: http://www.knoxnews.com/photos/gallerie ... ect/66016/