Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Robert Ulin

Second Advisor

Dr. Pamela Stone

Third Advisor

Dr. Gail Anderson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Allen Zagarell

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Forensic analysis of decomposing human remains in a submerged and contained aquatic environment is an area of research that lacks systematic evaluation and hinders the ability to accurately determine time since death/submersion. Expanding our understanding of how submersion and containment affects the known taphonomic agents pursuant to aquatic environments will contribute to the knowledge base on human decomposition in a multitude of environments.

In response to this limited knowledge base, this thesis reviews ten marine and air incidents occurring along the coast of British Columbia, Canada in which the bodies of eighteen individuals were recovered from inside the submerged wreckage of ships, aircrafts, and automobiles to ascertain if the microenvironment contained within the vessels alters known taphonomic agents. This thesis also looks at leaked fuel as a potential taphonomic agent that has been previously overlooked in the published literature. Although the information garnered here is limited, it will contribute to the discussion of human decomposition in a multitude of environments.

Included in

Anthropology Commons