Volume 32, Issue 4 (July 1987)
Preservation of Human Tissue Immersed for Five Years in Fresh Water of Known Temperature
Two human bodies were recovered from the waters of the Duluth, Minnesota harbor. Extensive adipocere formation resulted in remarkable preservation of gross anatomic features of internal organs. Total time of immersion could be precisely estimated at five years. Water temperature during those five years could also be accurately estimated by direct measurements taken during the year following recovery of the bodies and from information supplied by a local electric power generating company. Immersion occurred at the time of the year when water temperature was highest (70° F [21°C]) facilitating the rapid formation of adipocere. A proposed mechanism for formation of adipocere is described.