Explosives investigation

An explosion is a dramatic and often devastating event that occurs when a significant amount of energy is suddenly released. This phenomenon can result from a variety of chemical or physical reactions and is characterized by the instantaneous emission of light, heat, and sound. Explosions are not only impactful physical phenomena but can also have serious social repercussions, ranging from minor domestic accidents to large-scale acts of terrorism. Understanding the nature of explosions is crucial for public safety, emergency response, and forensic investigations.

Definition and Characteristics of an Explosion

Explosions occur through a rapid reaction, either physical or chemical, where materials transform their state with the release of gases at high temperature and pressure. This transformation results in a powerful shock wave that propagates energy in the form of heat, light, and sound. Distinctive features of an explosion include its swift progression and the capacity to cause extensive damage in a short period.

Common Causes of Explosions

Explosions can be triggered by a wide range of causes, from unintentional accidents in homes or industries to deliberate acts of violence. At home, something as common as a gas leak can lead to an explosion if it meets an ignition source. In a broader context, improvised explosive devices are often used in acts of terrorism and can vary greatly in complexity and destructiveness.

Construction of Explosive Devices

Improvised explosive devices can be relatively simple to construct. Elements such as timers or remote controls can be used to initiate a spark that detonates the explosive. The internet, regrettably, has made it easier to access numerous “recipes” for building bombs, posing a significant challenge to public safety. The potency of these bombs can vary enormously, depending on the materials used and the precision in the device’s construction.

Components of an Explosive Device

Typically, explosive devices contain several key components:

  • Detonators: Initiate the explosion.
  • Explosives: Chemicals that detonate.
  • Activation circuits: Timers or remote controls that trigger the detonator.
  • Containers: Casings that hold all the material together.
  • Boosters: Materials that amplify the shock wave.

A common example is the use of detonating cords, which are tubes filled with explosives like PETN, used to connect and transmit the shock wave between different parts of the explosive device.

Explosion Investigation Process

Investigating an explosion site is a meticulous and careful process, vital for understanding the cause of the incident and preventing future similar events.

Safety and Initial Site Assessment

Before investigators enter an explosion site, it must be confirmed that the area is safe. This includes ensuring there are no additional hazards, such as unstable structures or the presence of other unexploded devices. The area is cordoned off to preserve evidence and control access.

Damage Assessment and Evidence Collection

Once the site is deemed safe, investigators begin assessing the damage. This includes identifying the explosion’s epicenter, evaluating structural damage, and collecting fragments and other items that may serve as evidence. Fragments can provide crucial information about the composition and origin of the explosive device.

Interviews and Witness Statements

Collecting testimonies from witnesses is another crucial component of the investigation. Witnesses can offer valuable information about the events leading up to the explosion and any suspicious activity observed.

Types of Explosives

Explosives can be classified into several types, depending on their detonation speed and composition:

  • Detonations: Explosions that occur at supersonic speeds and are extremely destructive.
  • Deflagrations: Slower explosions that occur at subsonic speeds, common in fires and low-intensity explosions.

Explosives are also classified according to their potency, from low-power explosives like gunpowder to high-power explosives like TNT and PETN.


Investigating explosions is a complex field that requires a high level of technical expertise and attention to detail. Each explosion presents unique challenges and learning opportunities to improve safety practices and response. Through meticulous investigation and analysis, it is possible not only to elucidate the causes of these dramatic events but also to enhance prevention and response measures for future incidents.

Explosives. (s/f). Aboutforensics.co.uk. Recuperado el 9 de noviembre de 2021, de https://aboutforensics.co.uk/explosives/