Original paper

The activity ratio of 228Th to 228Ra in bone tissue of recently deceased humans: a new dating method in forensic examinations

Zinka, Bettina; Kandlbinder, Robert; Schupfner, Robert; Haas, Gerald; Wolfbeis, Otto S.; Graw, Matthias

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 69 No. 2 (2012), p. 147 - 157

published: Mar 1, 2012

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2012/0127

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP140006902002, Price: 29.00 €

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Reliable determination of time since death in human skeletons or single bones often is limited by methodically difficulties. Determination of the specific activity ratio of natural radionuclides, in particular of 232Th (Thorium), 228Th and 228Ra (Radium) seems to be a new appropriate method to calculate the post mortem interval. These radionuclides are incorporated by any human being, mainly from food. So with an individual's death the uptake of radionuclides ends. But the decay of 232Th produces 228Ra and 228Th due to its decay series, whereas 228Th is continuously built up in the human's bones. Thus, it can be concluded that in all deceased humans at different times after death different activity ratios of 228Th to 228Ra will develop in bone. According to this fact it should be possible to calculate time since death of an individual by first analysing the specific activities of 228Th and 228Ra in bones of deceased and then determining the 228Th/228Ra activity ratio, which can be assigned to a certain post-mortem interval.


post mortem interval (pmi)radionuclides228th228ra228th/228ra activity ratiodeceased humanshuman bone tissue