carbon dioxide; methane; nitrous oxide; air pollution; air temperature; biogeochemistry; carbon footprint; carcass; concentration (parameters); gas transport; methane emission; nitrous oxide emission; swine
Twelve pig carcasses were buried in single, shallow and deep (30 and 90cm, respectively) graves at an experimental site near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with three shallow and three deep wrapped in black plastic garbage bags. An additional six carcasses were left at the surface to decompose, three of which were bagged. Six reference pits without remains were also dug. The objective of this three-year study was to examine the biogeochemistry and utility of nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in grave detection and whether grave depth or cadaver condition (bagged versus bare) affected soil pore air concentrations and emission of the three gases. Graves showed significantly higher (α=0.05) concentrations and surface fluxes of N2O and CO2 than reference pits, but there was no difference in CH4 between graves and reference pits. While CH4 decreased with depth in the soil profiles, N2O and CO2 showed a large increase compared to reference pits. Shallow graves showed significantly higher emissions and pore air concentrations of N2O and CO2 than deep graves, as did bare versus bagged carcasses.