Geophysics and the search of freshwater bodies

David Hughes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    Geophysics may assist scent dogs and divers in the search of water bodies for human and animal remains, contraband, weapons and explosives by surveying large areas rapidly and identifying targets or environmental hazards. The most commonly applied methods are described and evaluated for forensic searches. Seismic reflection or refraction and CHIRPS are useful for deep, openwater bodies and identifying large targets, yet limited in streams and ponds. The use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) onwater(WPR) is of limited use in deepwaters (over 20 m) but is advantageous in the search for non-metallic targets in small ditches and ponds. Largemetal or metal-bearing targets can be successfully imaged in deep waters by using towfish magnetometers: in shallow waters such a towfish cannot be used, so a non-metalliferous boat can carry a terrestrial magnetometer. Each device has its uses, depending on the target and location: unknown target make-up (e.g. a homicide victimwith or without a metal object) may be best located using a range ofmethods (the multi-proxy approach), depending on water depth. Geophysics may not definitively find the target, but can provide areas for elimination and detailed search by dogs and divers, saving time and effort.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-149
    Number of pages9
    JournalScience and Justice
    VolumeVol 50, Issue 3
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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