Year of Award
Thesis - Campus Access Only
Master of Arts (MA)
Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)
Department or School/College
Department of Anthropology
Randall Skelton, Dave Dyer
decomposition, forensic taphonomy, postmortem interval
University of Montana
In a forensic context where human remains have been discovered, it is critical to establish how long an individual has been deceased. The postmortem interval represents the time that has passed since the death of the individual. Understanding how a body will decompose is crucial to estimating the postmortem interval. Extensive research investigating human decomposition patterns has been conducted at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where human remains have been studied in a multitude of settings to better understand how the processes of decomposition work. It has been found that temperature is the most influential factor on the rate of decomposition. Systematic research in cold, dry climates has yet to be conducted. West central Montana represents a climatic region characterized by cold winters and hot, arid summers. A study using pig remains as proxies for human cadavers was conducted by Parsons in 2009 to assess how summer and fall temperatures impact decomposition. This current study represents a sister study to that of the Parsons (2009) study and shows that the speed in which a body becomes frozen (delayed versus rapid) during the freeze-thaw cycle of the Montana winter and spring will alter the expected decomposition pattern. Application of the accumulated degree-days method shows that this method is inaccurate in a climatic region characterized by low temperatures and low humidity.
Dudzik, Beatrix, "USING THE FREEZE-THAW CYCLE TO DETERMINE THE POSTMORTEM INTERVAL: AN ASSESSMENT OF PIG DECOMPOSITION IN WEST CENTRAL MONTANA" (2009). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 1161.
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© Copyright 2009 Beatrix Dudzik