Strontium isotopes and geolocation: the pathway for identification of victims in Medellín, Colombia
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The goal of this study is to determine if strontium isotope analysis (87Sr/86Sr) is useful when applied to modern dental enamel samples, specifically from Medellín, Colombia. Strontium isotope analysis has been used extensively in the archaeological literature with only a few studies in the forensic literature. There is a need for identification of individuals whose remains are found in Colombia, due to the conflict that has taken thousands of lives. Samples from 75 teeth of 61 individuals were taken to determine the 87Sr/86Sr isotope ratio. The samples were processed using a thermal ionization mass spectrometer (TIMS) at Boston University in the Earth Science Department. The overall mean (87Sr/86Sr) = 0.70739 +/- 0.00159. The results are inconclusive, it was found that there is no significant difference between isotope ratios in different regions of Colombia. This indicates that more samples from other geographic locations in Colombia are needed to accurately sort populations in Colombia. Modernization, specifically imported food has an effect on strontium isotope ratios in dental enamel of individuals; this method needs to be tested with other modern populations in order to conclusively state that it does not work with modern populations.
Thesis (M.S.)--Boston University