Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Anthropology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Jay K. Johnson

Second Advisor

Robbie Ethridge

Third Advisor

Carolyn Freiwald

Relational Format



Geophysical survey has become a major tool in the search for clandestine graves associated with missing person cases. However, relatively little research has been done to evaluate the efficacy of different instruments. Ground-penetrating Radar (GPR), magnetometry, resistivity, conductivity, and susceptibility survey data were collected over the first six months of interment at approximately 30-day intervals for two research plots: an open grassy area and a wooded area. Each area contained five pig burials representing toddler-size (less than 50 pounds) remains and two areas of disturbance or false burials to serve as control graves. The resultant imagery was evaluated in terms of relative utility in burial detection. In general, geophysical survey method results were not very effective in the detection of toddler-sized burials. Under the conditions that this research was conducted, the GPR would have had the maximum potential to provide the best survey results, but this was not the case. The GPR results were only marginally better than the other methods after processing with additional filters. The other methods utilized in this research would be of no benefit in delineating toddler-sized clandestine burials under the conditions that this research was conducted. This is most likely due to the small target size, soil type, and the soil moisture.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



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