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The detection of clandestine graves in an arid environment using thermal imaging deployed from an unmanned aerial vehicle

Alawadhi, A, Eliopoulos, C and Bezombes, F (2023) The detection of clandestine graves in an arid environment using thermal imaging deployed from an unmanned aerial vehicle. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 68 (4). pp. 1286-1291. ISSN 0022-1198

The detection of clandestine graves in an arid environement using thermal imaging deployed from an unmanned aerial vehicle.pdf - Published Version
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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.15280 (Published version)


The Middle East is one of the world regions that has frequently suffered from armed conflicts that resulted in mass burials. However, the detection of clandestine graves in such an arid environment by deploying remote sensing payload on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has received little attention. The present study used a UAV equipped with a thermal sensor aimed at narrowing down the search area of possible gravesites in the arid climate of Kuwait. The enclosed research area, which includes both control and experimental mass graves, was imaged for 18 months. The variation in topsoil temperature and soil moisture between the graves and their surroundings was evaluated. The results of the analysis demonstrated the effectiveness of thermal imaging techniques in detecting heat produced from buried sheep carcasses and detecting the change in grave soil moisture for our research environment for 7 and 10 months, respectively. The buried animals significantly influenced the topsoil temperature (p = 0.044), while the height from which the images were captured had an insignificant effect on the measured temperature within the range tested (p = 0.985). Furthermore, there was a negative correlation (−0.359) between grave temperature and the calculated soil moisture. The results from these cost- and time-effective search methods presented in this study confirm their potential for the detection of burial sites in an arid environment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: UAV; burial detection; drone; forensic anthropology; forensic archeology; mass graves; remote sensing; thermal imaging; 0399 Other Chemical Sciences; 0699 Other Biological Sciences; 1103 Clinical Sciences; Legal & Forensic Medicine
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2023 10:24
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 10:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/1556-4029.15280
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20206
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