Document Type


Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Ground penetrating radar


Forensic Science and Technology


Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a non-invasive, geophysical tool that can be used for the identification of clandestine graves. GPR operates by detecting density differences in soil by the transmission of high frequency electromagnetic waves from an antenna. Domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcasses were clothed in 100% cotton t-shirts and 50% cotton/50% polyester briefs, and buried at a consistent depth at three field sites of contrasting soil texture (silty clay loam, fine sand and fine sandy loam) in southern Ontario. GPR was used to detect and monitor the graves for a period of 14 months post-burial. Analysis of collected data revealed that GPR had applicability in the identification of clandestine graves in silty clay loam and fine sandy loam soils, but was not suitable for detection in the fine sandy soil studied. The results of this research have applicability within forensic investigations involving decomposing remains by aiding in the location of clandestine graves in loam soils in southern Ontario through the use of GPR. geoforensics, ground penetrating radar, soil texture, buried remains


.This is the authors' accepted manuscript ("post-print") of the article that appeared in Special Publications, Vol. 384/2013,, © Geological Society of London 2013, posted by permission of the Geological Society of London. The published article may be accessed here.



Publisher Citation

Lowe, A., Beresford, D., Carter, D., Gaspari, F., O'Brien, R., & Forbes, S. (2013). Ground penetrating radar use in three contrasting soil textures in southern Ontario. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 384(1), 221-228.

Figure 1 (1)Nashville field site.tif (576 kB)
Fig. 1. Nashville field site burial arrangement schematic

Figure 2 - Representative GPR line data from Nashville - October 16, 2009 (423 days PBI) (1).tif (3798 kB)
Fig. 2. Representative GPR line data from Nashville – October 16, 2009 (14 months post burial). 440 Lines bisecting graves represent: ----- control and ----- experimental.

Figure 3 -Representative GPR Springwater - Sept 11, 2008 (32 days PBI).tif (4213 kB)
Fig. 3. Representative GPR line data collected from a grid pattern from Springwater – September 443 11, 2008 (1 month post burial). Lines bisecting graves represent: ----- experimental graves.

Figure 4 - Representative GPR Dummer - Oct 15, 2009 (431 days PBI).tif (4238 kB)
Fig. 4. Representative GPR line collected from a grid pattern from Dummer – October 15, 2009 446 (14 months post burial). Lines bisecting graves represent: ----- control, ----- experimental and 447 ----- extra grave.

Figure 5 - expected soil conductivities.tif (559 kB)
Fig. 5. Expected ranges of soil conductivities for sand, silt and clay (from Grisso et al., 2009: 450