The effect of soil type on adipocere formation

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Journal Article
Forensic Science International, 2005, 154 (1), pp. 35 - 43
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Adipocere refers to a postmortem product which forms from body fat in the later stages of decomposition. Factors present in the surrounding decomposition environment will influence adipocere formation and may accelerate or retard the process of conversion. One such factor important in burial environments is the type of grave soil in which the burial has taken place. This study was conducted to investigate the influence of various soil types on the formation of adipocere in grave soils. X-ray diffraction and particle size analysis were used to characterise the soils which were essentially chosen on the basis of grain size. Infrared spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry were used to investigate the lipid profile and chemical composition of adipocere developed from decomposing tissue. The results suggest that adipocere is able to form in various soil types and that particular soil environments may accelerate its formation. © 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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