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ANSWERED on Thu 8 Dec 2016 - 2:55 pm UTC by David Sarokin

Question: Decomposition

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mike84 

Customer

 8 Dec 2016 06:44 UTCThu 8 Dec 2016 - 6:44 am UTC 

If a body buried 2.5 meter underground (3 stories grave). Does the body atoms come back to surface? How?

 

David Sarokin 

Answer

 8 Dec 2016 14:55 UTCThu 8 Dec 2016 - 2:55 pm UTC 

mike84,

Welcome to Uclue, and thanks for bringing us such an intriguing question.

The short answer is yes, some of the atoms can come back to the surface.

Much of the body stays beneath the ground, of course, especially the bones and teeth. But the flesh and organs begin to decompose after death, due to chemical processes and the action of biological 'scavengers' from bacteria to maggots.

Some of the decomposing body turns into simple gases, like oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide. These gases can migrate through the soil, in much the same manner that gas bubbles out of a glass of soda (just much more slowly, though). Some will escape directly to the atmosphere, other gases will be absorbed in the soil and become part of plants, soil animals (like worms) or minerals, and these can all make their way to the open air eventually. Liquids and salts from the decomposing body can similarly make their way through the soil up to the surface.

If you're interested in more detail, here's a useful (though somewhat gory) article on the physical, chemical and biological processes at work:

https://mosaicscience.com/story/what-happens-after-you-die
This is what happens after you die

and some more detail about the chemistry of the underlying processes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_process_of_decomposition
Chemistry of Decomposition


Let me know if you need any additional information.


David

 

mike84 

Customer

 8 Dec 2016 23:44 UTCThu 8 Dec 2016 - 11:44 pm UTC 

How mineral and gas absorbed to doil come to surface (without a tree above grave) my question is about 8.2 feet (not the famouse 6 feet) which probably no maggots or worm live at that depth

 

David Sarokin 

Researcher

 9 Dec 2016 00:08 UTCFri 9 Dec 2016 - 12:08 am UTC 

mike84,

There is usually plenty of living organisms in soil, even at a depth of 8 feet or more. Most of it is probably microbial, but larger critters, like worms, can also be active at that depth. True...there isn't as much living matter as there would generally be closer to the surface, but it's still there and still plays a role in moving molecules around, including the material that was once part of a buried body.

Biological processes speed things up, but even in the absence of life, basic physical and chemical processes will also cause the atoms of a decomposing body to diffuse away from their point of origin, spreading out in all directions, including towards the surface. It may take a very long time but eventually, some of the material from the corpse will reappear topside.

The process can be accelerated by evaporation. As water disappears from the surface, it causes water from deeper levels to be 'sucked up' so to speak. The rising water carries with it the gasses and minerals it absorbs from lower levels, bringing these molecules to the surface.

Hope that gets you what you need.

David

 

mike84 

Customer

 9 Dec 2016 00:39 UTCFri 9 Dec 2016 - 12:39 am UTC 

 

David Sarokin 

Researcher

 9 Dec 2016 04:37 UTCFri 9 Dec 2016 - 4:37 am UTC 

mike84...thanks for the rating. Hope we'll see you back at Uclue one of these days.

David

 

ophelia 

User

 22 Mar 2017 11:39 UTCWed 22 Mar 2017 - 11:39 am UTC 

Late at night a couple of scientists were walking through an old Vienna cemetary and heard some very strange music arising from one of the graves.

First guy asks, "What in God's name is that!"

Second guy says, "Oh, it's nothing. Just Beethoven decomposing."

 

myoarin 

User

 22 Mar 2017 15:47 UTCWed 22 Mar 2017 - 3:47 pm UTC 

The longer version of the joke has an admirer of Beethoven paying homage at his grave and hearing the strange music.  Only at the end of it, does he recognize that it was Beethovens's Fifth Symphony played backwards ("bum ba ba ba" instead of "ba ba ba bum"). 
Terribly curious, he asks the person in charge of the cemetery, who explains: 
"Beethoven must still be *decomposing*." 

(Thanks, Ophelia,  While reading the title and the question, I was debating with myself, if I could post the joke.  Myo)

 

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