Monday, April 19, 2010


Hyperspectral Imaging 101

The forensics lab may have a new tool to use next time they are searching for a missing body. I know it sounds gruesome, but the scientists from McGill University have been testing this instrument through application for a little while now.

Hyperspectral Imaging is the new buzz word in this field and it's changing how people think about graves, soil and plant growth.

As soon as there is some decay, the whole Ph changes which alters the electromagnetic spectrum, visible and infrared light from plants and surface which is measurable from instruments above the search site. Scientists are finding graves of not only 10 and 20 year old burial sites, but of ancient ones too.

So, with a little more research, I find for the first five years a decaying body inhibits plant growth due to the toxicity of the soil. Plants that grow over such recent graves don't reflect as much light in the visible and near infrared region. This is what scientists can detect using their new fangled cameras.

After five years, however, the plants growing over buried body suddenly ref
lect about twice as much light instead of absorbing light. Although the naked eye cant tell, the hyperspectral camera is programmed to do just that. It takes about five years for a buried body to become fertilizer.

This technology is expected to help in discovering mass graves in areas where countries suffered decades of internal bloodshed and the victims were buried in unmarked mass graves. Do Bosnia and Rwanda come to mind?

Its not too wild to think that this could also help during archaeological dig sites, such as the recent Native American discovery at the future Millens Scrap Yard on Rt 32 in Ulster, NY. But whether we get to see this technology in action in our area or not, it should be available enough to give perpetrators of such heinous crimes less opportunity to hide their evidence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This would be yet another byproduct of the US military. They used this type of technology several years after the gulf war to locate Saddam's mass graves in Iraq and pinpoint where the military left the radioactive debris throughout their landscape.
I see it has finally found a domestic use after all these years and tax dollars.