Using ground penetrating radar and resistivity methods to locate unmarked graves: A review

Victoria Berezowski, Xanthé Mallett, Justin Ellis, Ian Moffat

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    11 Downloads (Pure)


    The location of unmarked graves in forensic and archaeological investigations is legally and culturally important. In a forensic context, locating covert burials of missing persons can provide closure to the family, as well as facilitating the successful prosecution of the individual(s) responsible. Archaeologically, burials provide an important source of information about health, diet, physical anthropology, and culture. Despite the importance of these features, the location of unmarked graves with conventional archaeological and forensic techniques, such as excavation, is difficult and expensive. As a result, geophysical techniques have been widely applied to the location of unmarked graves as they are non-invasive, cost and time effective, and avoid the unnecessary disturbance of human remains. This article brings together the literature on ground penetrating radar (GPR), and two resistivity methods, electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and fixed probe resistivity (FPR), on their ability to locate burials and reviews their use in forensic and archaeological investigations. This paper aims to provide law enforcement personnel, archaeologists, geophysicists, and interested academics with an overview of how these techniques work, how they have been previously applied to grave detection, and the strengths and weakness of these methods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2880
    Number of pages22
    JournalRemote Sensing
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


    • Archaeology
    • Clandestine grave
    • Electrical resistivity tomography
    • ERT
    • Fixed probe resistivity
    • Forensic science
    • Geophysical survey
    • Geophysics
    • GPR
    • Ground penetrating radar
    • Unmarked grave


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