Condition of bodies after the descent


To Matthew Newman:
(Bob Godfrey) quote >>Soft tissues are made up mainly of water which is compressible only to a very limited degree, and bone would not be affected..<<

I have heard that the human body is composed of a large percentage of water.
 

Aly Jones

Member
Body is full of water,does not matter. If you're dead you are going to decompose. The question is,Will the watery grave make the body decompose faster? I think so.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
I don't think the question is decomposition, Alyson - the question is the affect that pressure would have on the bodies in the immediate aftermath of the sinking, which is where the water content of the body and questions of compressiblity comes in.

The cold of the water at that depth would certainly slow the progress of decay (in some freshwater lakes, it even leads to a process call "saponification", turning the body into a so-called "soap mummy" that might last nearly intact for years...I don't know of any marine examples of this occuring, though). In shallower depths, the gasses caused by decomposition usually cause a body to rise after a period. It is notoriously difficult to keep a body weighted down - many attempts to conceal a murder victim by tying them to a heavy object and dropping them in a body of water fail when decomposition gasses cause the body to rise.

I don't know - and would be curious to find out - if such gas is also a byproduct of the marine bacteria causing decomposition at that depth. And if such gas is produced, would water pressure cause it to be immediately expelled from the corpse, prohibiting the bloating we associate decomposition with on land and in shallower depths?
 

Aly Jones

Member
Hi Inger. Sea life are made to live in the sea, while humans are made to live on land!
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Interesting that he says that the dissolving of bone would most likely have taken decades. That goes against what I've read on this forum that it probably only took a couple of years.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
I wonder how much research went into the answer, Jeremy? I imagine it would depend on variable factors such as how much calcium is in seawater at that depth. Might be difficult to nail it down without either lab experiments replicating those deep sea conditions or by observing comparable wrecks, and I doubt many of the latter are monitored to watch the decay of human remains.
 

Steve Gad

Member
After a relatively short period of immersion, the skin on hands and feet can come off like gloves or socks. Submersion under water, even for a relatively short period of time, decomposes the body quickly and leads to tissue breakdown that makes it harder to determine a time of death
 
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LDDavis911

Member
The body would not be flattened, any more than those of the fish which live down there. Soft tissues are made up mainly of water which is compressible only to a very limited degree, and bone would not be affected. Only those areas which contain air spaces that could not fill with water as the body descended would show much sign of pressure damage - notably the chest cavity. Bodies have been recovered from great depths and apart from the obvious rupturing of the lungs, ears, etc they are basically intact. We've all seen those drinking cups brought back from the depths and compressed by pressure, but that happens because they are made of a plastic foam material which contains mainly air.

Thank you Bob. I've wondered that for 40 years! That makes perfect sense.
 
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