Lesley A. Chesson
Basic principles of stable isotope analysis in humanitarian forensic science.
Chesson, Lesley A.; Meier-Augenstein, Wolfram; Berg, Gregory E.; Bataille, Clement P.; Bartelink, Eric J.; Richards, Michael P.
Gregory E. Berg
Clement P. Bataille
Eric J. Bartelink
Michael P. Richards
Roberto C. Parra
Sara C. Zapico
Douglas H. Ubelaker
While the identity of a victim of a localized disaster – such as a train or bus crash – may be established quickly through personal effects, fingerprints, dental records, and a comparison of decedent DNA to family reference specimen DNA, a different scenario presents itself in mass disasters, such as the Asian Tsunami of 2004. In the aftermath of the tsunami, visual appearance was initially used to assign “foreign” or “indigenous” classifications to the remains of thousands of victims. However, this visual identification approach was undermined by the speed with which bodies deteriorated under the hot and humid conditions. Time was spent populating ante-mortem DNA databases for different nationalities, which led to problems when creating a post-mortem DNA database because recovery of viable DNA was compromised due to rapid decomposition. As a consequence, only 1.3% of victims were identified by DNA; in contrast, 61% were identified based on dental examination, although this process took several months and a significant number of deceased from the 2004 Asian Tsunami still remain to be identified.
|Publication Date||Feb 10, 2020|
|Series Title||Forensic science in focus|
|Book Title||Forensic science and humanitarian action: interacting with the dead and the living.|
|Chapter Number||Chapter 20|
|Institution Citation||CHESSON, L. A., MEIER-AUGENSTEIN, W., BERG, G. E., BATAILLE, C. P., BARTELINK, E. J., and RICHARDS, M. P. 2020. Basic principles of stable isotope analysis in humanitarian forensic science. In Parra, R.C., Zapico, S.C. and Ubelaker, D.H. (eds.). Forensic science and humanitarian action: interacting with the dead and the living. Forensic science in focus. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-VCH Verlag [online], pages 285-310. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119482062.ch20|
|Keywords||Mass disasters; Identity; Victims; DNA; Dental records; Isotopes|
CHESSON 2020 Basic principles
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