, Volume 401, Issue 8, pp 2511-2518
Date: 26 Aug 2011

Potential application of Raman spectroscopy for determining burial duration of skeletal remains

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Raman spectroscopy was used to study trends in chemical composition of bones in a burial environment. A turkey bone was sectioned and buried for short intervals between 12 and 62 days. Buried sections were analyzed using Raman microspectroscopy with 785 nm excitation. The results indicate that chemical changes in bone due to soil bacteria are time-dependent. Spectroscopic trends within buried bone segments were correlated to burial duration. A preliminary model was constructed using peak integration of Raman bands. Data collected within buried bone segments fit very well in this model. The model constructed is sensitive to changes in bone composition in a scale of days. This study illustrates the great potential of Raman spectroscopy as a non-destructive method for estimating the burial duration of bone for forensic purposes.