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International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 487–497 | Cite as

A valid method to determine the site of drowning

  • Rafael Carballeira
  • Duarte N. Vieira
  • Manuel Febrero-Bande
  • José I. Muñoz Barús
Original Article

Abstract

The diatom test is considered a useful aid in determining the site of death from drowning. Nevertheless, there is disagreement within the scientific community concerning its reliability, and its findings have been challenged and sometimes overturned in courts of law. Using a model based on animal experimentation, we have developed a diatom test to discriminate between the locations of drowning sites from different aquatic systems. We carried out a complementary combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses together with a statistical analysis based on the Kullback-Leibler distance of the samples. A restrictive selection of exclusive diatom species from each reservoir was also made. This approach allowed us to validate the usefulness of the diatom test in determining the location of the site of drowning.

Keywords

Drowning Diatom test Site of drowning Forensic pathology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Demarcaciones Hidrográficas del Duero, Cantábrico, Miño-Sil, Galicia-Costa, and Augas de Galicia of the Autonomous Government of Xunta de Galicia for providing information on diatom communities in Galician rivers. Thanks also to the Instituto José Cornide de Estudios Coruñeses for providing the unpublished documents of López-Seoane (1893) and thanks to V. Reynolds for his support.

Funding Information

Rafael Carballeira is grateful for the financial support (2012–2013) of the Instituto de Ciencias Forenses “Luis Concheiro Carro” (USC) and for the Galician research plan innovation and development 2011–2015 (Plan I2C) of the autononamous Government Xunta de Galicia and co-financed by European Social Fund. The research of Manuel Febrero-Bande is partially supported by MTM2016-76969-P (Spanish State Research Agency, AEI) and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Supplementary material

414_2017_1708_MOESM1_ESM.docx (111 kb)
Online Resource 1 (DOCX 111 kb)
414_2017_1708_MOESM2_ESM.docx (99 kb)
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414_2017_1708_MOESM3_ESM.docx (138 kb)
Online Resource 3 (DOCX 138 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Forensic SciencesUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Botany, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Forensic Medicine, Ethics and Medical Law, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.Area of Statistics and Operations Research, Faculty of MathematicsUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Forensic Sciences, Pathology, Gynecology and Obstetrics, PediatricsUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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