Pringle, who is leading the Colombian study, has already conducted similar studies throughout his career as a forensic geophysicist. His work with simulated clandestine graves in the U.K. taught him that the detection of corpses depends greatly on understanding how the body decomposes in different soils and climates.
By monitoring soil gases and fluids, researchers are able to better understand these processes and apply them to real-life forensic cases.
The Colombian study will survey eight distinct geological locations over the course of 18 months. And the scientists hope that their research will also allow them to gather clues about time of death and burial, which are important details during a murder trial.
International collaborations among forensic geophysicists have already proven helpful in locating the clandestine graves of IRA victims in Northern Ireland as well as the current excavations of mass graves in Spain that date back to that country's Civil War.
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