Bomb-Blast Forensics: The First Steps

 

 

 

” Even as the police and doctors treat the wounded, the forensic investigation into the explosions at the Boston Marathon will begin. 

“The forensics start as soon as people realize there’s been an explosion,” says Tom Thurman, of Eastern Kentucky University. 

Thurman knows a lot about bomb investigations. Before his retirement from the FBI in 1998, Thurman was the chief of the FBI Bomb Data Center; he also worked

 Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; the bombing deaths of a federal judge in Alabama and an attorney in Georgia, both in 1989; and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. 

The first thing to do is to determine if the explosions were intentional. “What’s there that could spark an accidental explosion?” Thurman asks. If no likely sources for an accidental detonation are found—like a buildup of flammable vapors—the investigators start looking at other evidence. “