Analysis of Explosives - Michigan State University

Analysis of Explosives - Michigan State University

Analysis of Explosives Introduction Most bombing incidents involve homemade explosive devices There are a great many types of explosives and explosive devices Lab must determine type of explosives and, if possible, reconstruct the

explosive device Chemistry of Explosion Essentially a combustion reaction - like a fire Major difference is speed of reaction Damage caused by rapidly escaping gases and confinement

Types of Explosives Low explosives Escaping gases up to about 3000fps Crucial element is physical mixture of oxygen and fuel Examples are black and smokeless powders

Black powder is mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulfur Smokeless powder is nitrocellulose and perhaps nitroglycerine Types of Explosives High explosives

Velocity of escaping gases up to 10,000fps Oxygen usually contained infuel molecule Two types Initiating - Senistive, will detonate readily when subjected to heat or shock. Used to detonate other explosives in explosive train Noninitiating - relatively insensitive, requires heat or shock. Includes TNT or PETN

Types of Explosives Ammonium nitrate based Water gels Emulsions

ANFOs Analysis of Explosives Microscopy Thin layer chromatography

Visualise with Greiss reagents Infrared spectrophotometry Detonator fragments The Role of Forensic Science in the Investigation of Major Acts of Terrorism Introduction

A major terrorist act can generate huge amounts of evidence that can help in the investigation Different acts call for different strategies This talk will examine three major terrorist acts in the US during the past 10 years with emphasis on the forensic science aspects:

World Trade Center Bombing Murrah building in Oklahoma City bombing World Trade Center destruction The World Trade Center Bombing The Scenario

Urea nitrate bomb put into truck and driven into underground WTC garage and parked at 4th level down Subsequent explosion did extensive damage to several levels of the garage and less damage to other levels Although goal was to topple WTC, little structural damage was done Some loss of life

Goals of Investigation Identify victims Identify explosive Recover bomb and timing device Determine method of delivery Evidence Sought

Investigators had to remove large quantities of concrete, steel and cars to get to bomb seat Bomb seat contained most of the important evidence Bomb parts; timer, casing, etc. Explosive residue Parts of truck that contained explosive

Areas of Forensic Science Explosives Engineering Questioned documents Fingerprints Pathology DNA The Murrah Building, Oklahoma City

The Scenario ANFO explosive and timer packed into a rented truck, which was then parked outside Murrah building Explosive confined to closed space such as truck is much more powerful Resulting explosion resulted in severe damage to building and loss of more

than 100 lives Goals of Investigation Identify victims Identify explosive Find timer and bomb parts Determine method of delivery Evidence Sought Easier to find than in WTC because

bomb seat outside building Explosive residues Bomb parts Bodies and body parts; cadaver dogs, flies Personal effects; helps in identification of human remains Areas of Forensic Science

Anthropology DNA and serology Pathology Entomology Explosives Trace evidence Engineering Questioned documents Fingerprints

WTC Destruction The Scenario Large airplanes, loaded with fuel, crash into WTC buildings

Raging fires ignite everything in building above crash sites. Metal supports melt from heat Building collapses due to inability to support its own weight after structural damage Thousands of people killed Goals of Investigation Cause known, no need to determine

how destruction occurred Recover and identify bodies, parts of bodies and charred remains Recover personal effects that might help identify victims or perpetrators Evidence that might determine how hijackings occurred. Evidence Sought Bodies and body parts; cadaver dogs,

flies Charred remains Personal effects Trace evidence such as charred papers Weapons such as knives Constraining devices such as wire Areas of Forensic Science Anthropology

DNA and serology Odontology Pathology Entomology Trace evidence Questioned documents Fingerprints Tools and toolmarks

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