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Assessment of carbon, oxygen, strontium, and lead isotopic variation in modern Colombian teeth: An application to human identification

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 68 Issue: 6 Dated: 2023 Pages: 1856-1874
Date Published
19 pages

 This study assesses the isotopic variability of carbon, oxygen, strontium, and lead isotopic variation in teeth and the applicability of this process as a means of human identification.


This project evaluated the isotopic variability of carbon, oxygen, strontium, and lead in modern Colombian teeth according to city, department, and one of four geographically determined regions of origin; and assessed its utility for human identification in Colombia. Results indicate a wide range and overlap of O-C-SR-Pb isotopic distribution according to the defined categories. However, differences between coastal and lowland individuals are observed and differences between mountainous regions are observed. In addition, this study suggests that the usefulness of isotopic analysis for unidentified individuals in Colombia would be with assigning them geographically using the designations of North, Central Andes, Eastern Andes, or Southwest Andes versus making classifications at a city or department level.  Colombia faces the complex humanitarian challenges of locating approximately 100,000 missing persons and identifying thousands who are deceased. Identification is a difficult task in many cases, because the skeletonized bodies are deteriorated, missing person data are unavailable for comparison, and the provenance of the remains is often totally unknown. Isotopic analysis of human tissues aids in the identification process of unknown individuals because it can provide valuable information on possible geographic origin. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023