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Centre for the Forensic Sciences Blog



CFS Seminar Series – Giorgio Blom (Staffordshire University)

By uctzreg, on 15 March 2016

Last Thursday, we had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Giorgio Blom to our CFS seminar series. He gave us a fascinating talk on his PhD project which is looking at the use of analytical techniques for the discrimination of decomposition products (e.g. putrescine, cadaverine, and methylamine) originating from a buried corpse. Giorgio has been looking at using these different techniques to narrow down the search area when looking for missing people.

Giorgio introducing his topic

Giorgio introducing his topic

Currently, the police use victim recovery dogs or geophysical instruments such as ground penetrating radar to locate possible clandestine graves. The problem is that when you have a large surface area, it’s very difficult to thoroughly search the whole area using these techniques. This is where Giorgio’s research comes into effect.

During his project, he focused on the following instruments to detect these decomposition products:

  • GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry);
  • Ion chromatography;
  • HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography);
  • LC-MS (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry).
  • Even though these instruments are still in the research stage, they’re showing great potential for the detection of decomposition products. Before finishing his talk, he gave two examples of locations where he tested these instruments: in both an aquatic and terrestrial environment, in order to determine their suitability for casework. Overall, his research was very impressive and I really enjoyed his talk!