The correlation between the Aquatic Decomposition Score (ADS) and the post-mortem submersion interval measured in Accumulated Degree Days (ADD) in bodies recovered from fresh water

Guido Reijnen*, H. Tamara Gelderman, Bernice F. L. Oude Grotebevelsborg, Udo J. L. Reijnders, Wilma L. J. M. Duijst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Aquatic Decomposition Score (ADS) made by van Daalen et al., was developed to approximate the Post-Mortem Submersion Interval (PMSI) in bodies recovered in salt water. Since the decomposition process in salt water differs from the process in fresh water due to salinity, the temperature, and the depth of the water, we wanted to investigate whether there is a correlation between the ADS and the PMSI and if the ADS can be used to make an estimation of the PMSI in bodies recovered from fresh water. For the latter, the PMSI was measured using Accumulated Degree Days (ADD). In our study we included seventy-six human remains found outdoors in fresh water. Their decomposition was measured using the ADS. A strong correlation was found between the ADS and the PMSI. Also, it was found that the ADS can significantly estimate the ADD. Despite the more varied circumstances under which bodies in fresh water are found when compared to those found in salt water, the ADS can be used to measure the decomposition and accurately estimate the ADD, and thus the PMSI. More research is needed to validate our method and make a prediction model with smaller confidence intervals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-306
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science Medicine and Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Post-mortem submersion interval
  • Decomposition
  • Aquatic Decomposition Score
  • Accumulated Degree Days
  • Drowning
  • Fresh water

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