Volume 41, Issue 4 (July 1996)
Disturbances in the Soil: Finding Buried Bodies and Other Evidence Using Ground Penetrating Radar
Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is an efficient and effective means to search for buried evidence, whether it be a clandestine grave, formal burial, or certain missing articles from a crime scene. The procedures for GPR used by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI), are the result of several years of experimentation on a variety of ground surfaces in Hawaii, Southeast Asia and the mainland U.S. This remote sensing method does not usually provide direct information that there is a body or other specific object beneath the ground. Most of the time the GPR has been used to determine where a target object is not located. The key feature of GPR is that it can detect recent changes in shallow soil conditions caused by the disturbance of soil and the intrusion of different material.
Using the methods described here, the investigator should be able to determine the precise metric grid coordinates for a subsurface disturbance, as well as the approximate size, the general shape, and the depth of the buried material. Success will vary with soil conditions. The conditions suitable or not practical for using GPR are summarized. This remote sensing technology can have wider use in crime scene investigations due to the recent introduction of more user-friendly software and more portable hardware.