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Quantifying microcracks on fractured bone surfaces - potential use in forensic anthropology

Walden, Steven J., Rowe, Wendy, Mulville, Jacqui ORCID:, Evans, Sam L. ORCID: and Zioupos, Peter 2023. Quantifying microcracks on fractured bone surfaces - potential use in forensic anthropology. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 142 , 105824. 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2023.105824

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Bone fracture surface morphology (FSM) can provide valuable information on the cause of failure in forensic and archaeological applications and it depends primarily on three factors, the loading conditions (like strain rate), the ambient conditions (wet or dry bone material) and the quality of bone material itself. The quality of bone material evidently changes in taphonomy as a result of the decomposition process and that in turn is expected to affect FSM. Porcine bones were fractured by a standardised impact during the course of soft tissue decomposition, at 28-day intervals, over 140 days (equivalent to 638 cooling degree days). Measurements of the associated microcracks on the fractured cortical bone surfaces indicated a progressive increase in mean length during decomposition from around 180 μm–375 μm. The morphology of these microcracks also altered, from multiple intersecting microcracks emanating from a central point at 0–28 cumulative cooling degree days, to longer linear cracks appearing to track lamellae as soft tissue decomposition progressed. The implications of these findings are that taphonomic changes of bone may offer the real possibility of distinguishing perimortem and taphonomic damage and also provide a new surrogate parameter for estimation of post-mortem interval (PMI) in forensics.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1751-6161
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 1 April 2023
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2023 05:53

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