Harnessing Thor's Hammer: Experimentally induced lightning trauma to human bone by high impulse current

Bacci, Nicholas, Augustine, Tanya Nadine, Hunt, Hugh G.P., Nixon, Ken J., Hoffman, Jakobus, Bam, Lunga, de Beer, Frikkie and Randolph-Quinney, Patrick (2021) Harnessing Thor's Hammer: Experimentally induced lightning trauma to human bone by high impulse current. Forensic Science International: Synergy. p. 100206. ISSN 2589-871X (In Press)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsisyn.2021.100206


Lightning fatality identification relies primarily on soft tissue traumatic pattern recognition, prohibiting cause of death identification in cases of full skeletonisation. This study explores the effects of high impulse currents on human bone, simulating lightning-level intensities and characterising electrically induced micro-trauma through conventional thin-section histology and micro-focus X-ray computed tomography (μXCT). An experimental system for high impulse current application was applied to bone extracted from donated cadaveric lower limbs (n = 22). μXCT was undertaken prior to and after current application. Histological sections were subsequently undertaken. μXCT poorly resolved micro-trauma compared to conventional histology which allowed for identification and classification of lightning-specific patterns of micro-trauma. Statistical analyses demonstrated correlation between current intensity, extent and damage typology suggesting a multifaceted mechanism of trauma propagation - a combination of electrically, thermally and pressure induced alterations. This study gives an overview of high impulse current trauma to human bone, providing expanded definitions of associated micro-trauma.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: The authors would like to thank the NRF for funding the equipment at NECSA (grant number: UID 72310) (FDB, JH, LB) as well as funding The Johannesburg Lightning Research Laboratory (Unique Grant number: 98244). They would also like to thank Eskom for the support of the Lightning/EMC Research Group through the TESP programme. Thanks are also due to the Carnegie Corporation Transformation Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand (001.408.8421101) and Wits University URC (001.000.8421101.3113101) for previously funding the Olympus iX51 Inverted Microscope and CellSense Software (TNA) as well as the FRC, University of the Witwatersrand and the JJJ Smieszek grant (NB).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lightning, Bone trauma, Forensic taphonomy, High current impulse, Micro-focus X-ray computed tomography, Histology
Subjects: C100 Biology
F400 Forensic and Archaeological Science
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2021 10:09
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2021 09:12
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/47620

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