Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cold cases heat up through Lawrence Livermore approach to identifying remains

11.10.2012
In an effort to identify the thousands of John/Jane Doe cold cases in the United States, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher and a team of international collaborators have found a multidisciplinary approach to identifying the remains of missing persons.

Using "bomb pulse" radiocarbon analysis developed at Lawrence Livermore, combined with recently developed anthropological analysis and forensic DNA techniques, the researchers were able to identify the remains of a missing child 41 years after the discovery of the body.

In 1968, a child's cranium was recovered from the banks of a northern Canadian river. Initial analysis conducted by investigators, using technology at the time, concluded that the cranium came from the body of a 7-9-year-old child and no identity could be determined. The case went cold and was reopened later.

The cranium underwent reanalysis at the Centre for Forensic Research, Simon Fraser University in Canada, where skull measurements, skeletal ossification, and dental formation indicated an age-at-death of approximately 4 1/2; years old. At Lawrence Livermore, researchers conducted radiocarbon analysis of enamel from two teeth indicated a more precise birth date. Forensic DNA analysis, conducted at Simon Fraser University, indicated the child was a male, and the obtained mitochondrial profile matched a living maternal relative to the presumed missing child.

The multidisciplinary analyses resulted in a legal identification 41 years after the discovery of the remains, highlighting the enormous potential of combining radiocarbon analysis with anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analyses in producing confident personal identifications in forensic cold cases dating to within the last 60 years.

"There are thousands of John Doe and Jane Doe cold cases in the United States," said Livermore scientist Bruce Buchholz, who conducted the radiocarbon analysis in the case. "I believe we could provide birth dates and death dates for many of these cases."

Age determination of unknown human bodies is important in the setting of a crime investigation or a mass disaster, because the age at death, birth date and year of death, as well as gender, can guide investigators to the correct identity among a large number of possible matches.

Using the Laboratory's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Buchholz determined that the radioactive carbon-14 produced by above-ground nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s remains in the dental enamel, the hardest substance in the body. The radiocarbon analysis shows that dating teeth with the carbon-14 method estimates the birth date within one to two years.

Above-ground testing of nuclear weapons during the Cold War (1955-1963) caused a surge in global levels of carbon-14 (14C), which has been carefully recorded over time. The radiocarbon technique determines the amount of 14C in tooth enamel. Scientists can relate the extensive atmospheric record for 14C to when the tooth was formed and calculate the age of the tooth and its owner.

In forensic cases where teeth are unavailable, the radiocarbon analysis of bone also can provide useful information whether the time of death occurred prior to 1955 or afterward.

In the missing child case, Buchholz determined radiocarbon values for two teeth, which once analyzed showed that that the average of the crown's enamel formation span occurred between 1959 and 1961.

"In a conservative estimate, the carbon-14 value for the crown's enamel would correspond with a birth year between 1958 and 1962," Buchholz said.

In summary, the 14C dates in combination with the age-at-death estimate using anthropological techniques suggest that the child was born between 1958 and 1962 and died between 1963 and 1968.

The research also has implications for the identity of victims in mass graves or mass fatality contexts, where a combined DNA and radiocarbon analysis approach provides the additional benefit of distinguishing between maternal relations.

Besides Livermore and Simon Fraser University, other institutions participating in the research include the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

The research appears in the September issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

More Information

"Personal Identification of Cold Case Remains Through Combined Contribution from Anthopological, mtDNA, and Bomb-Pulse Dating Analysis," Journal of Forensic Sciences, September 2012.

"Fat turnover in obese slower than average," LLNL news release, Sept. 23, 2011

"Date for a Heart Cell," Science & Technology Review, April/May 2010

"New tooth enamel dating technique could help identify disaster victims," LLNL news release, Sept. 14, 2005

"Forensics: Age written in teeth by nuclear tests," Nature, Sept. 15, 2005.

Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry
Bruce Buchholz

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides solutions to our nation's most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.llnl.gov

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Bergamotene - alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics
13.04.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>