Title page for ETD etd-04252011-180855

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McQuinn, Bonnie Charlana
Author's Email Address charlo11@gmail.com
URN etd-04252011-180855
Title Impact of Embalming and Burial on Decomposition Rates and Diffusion of Volatile Fatty Acids in Kentucky
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Manhein, Mary Committee Chair
Saunders, Rebecca Committee Member
Tague, Robert Committee Member
  • Kentucky
  • Surface Remains
  • Volatile Fatty Acids
  • Insects
  • Burials
  • Embalming
Date of Defense 2011-04-08
Availability unrestricted
Six still-born fetal pigs were divided into two groups (three were embalmed, and three non-embalmed) to determine a postmortem interval on decomposing remains in eastern Kentucky. One pig from each group was placed on the surface, one from each group was interred at a depth of two feet, and one from each group was buried at four feet. This study focused on observing necrophagous insect succession as well as how far on both a horizontal and a vertical plane volatile fatty acids leach from a body. Soil samples were taken from near all specimens at the time of respective termination of the project in order to determine leaching distances.

Results show that embalmed remains mummify, and, hence, attract more beetles than non-embalmed remains. Results also demonstrate that volatile fatty acids are not degraded by embalming fluid and leach out both vertically and horizontally, with higher concentrations running vertically. Soil associated with buried remains tend to retain higher concentrations of volatile fatty acids than do soils associated with surface remains.

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