Geological and Soil Evidence : Forensic Applications book cover
1st Edition

Geological and Soil Evidence
Forensic Applications

ISBN 9780849331466
Published April 19, 2007 by CRC Press
360 Pages 8 Color & 130 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The forensic potential of geological and soil evidence has been recognized for more than a century, but recently these types of evidence are used much more widely as an investigative intelligence tool and as evidence in court. There is, however, still a poor understanding of the potential value and the limitations of geological and soil evidence among the forensic science and wider legal communities.

Geological and Soil Evidence: Forensic Applications provides an authoritative introduction to the nature and properties of geological and soil materials that may be used as trace evidence and the techniques used to analyze and evaluate them. It emphasizes the use of geoscience in forensic analyses, including geophysical, meteorological, and geomorphological data. This inclusive book covers material types and analytical strategies used in examining both the common components of geological evidence, such as rocks, dusts, minerals, spores, and microfossils, as well as anthropogenic particles like pottery and brick. It instructs on particle characterization based on physical, chemical, and mineralogical traits such as color, shape, density, and elemental and isotopic composition. It also explains sampling and handling procedures particular to criminalistics and introduces analysis, evaluation, and decision-making practices based on statistical significance and the weighing of different types of evidence. Discussions of basic principles are supported and enhanced with numerous case studies that tie methods of analysis to specific forensic applications. Examples are drawn from the author's own experience as well as the wider scientific literature.

Accessible enough for readers with limited scientific knowledge and informative enough for scientists interested in forensic applications, Geological and Soil Evidence: Forensic Applications is a comprehensive reference for the current knowledge of forensic geology and soil science.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Nature and Development of Forensic Geology
The Nature of Forensic Geology and Forensic Soil Science
Development of the Use of Geological and Soil Materials as Trace Evidence
Other Types of Geoscience Data Useful in Forensic Investigations

Types of Geological and Soil Materials That May be Useful as Trace Evidence
Overview of Material Types and Available Analytical Strategies
Dusts and Particulates
Glasses and Other Amorphous Materials
Anthropogenic Materials

Bulk Properties of Geological and Soil Materials
Physical Characteristics
Chemical Characteristics
Mineralogical Characteristics
Bulk Organic Matter Characteristics

Properties of Individual Particles
Particle Size
Particle Shape
Surface Texture
Characterization of Particle Morphology Using Fourier Analysis, Fractal Analysis, and Fourier Descriptors
Three-Dimensional Particle Shape Analysis Using
X-Ray Tomography and Laser Profilometry
Luminescence Properties
Composite Characterization of Particles and Objects
Elemental Composition
Isotopic Composition
Mineralogical Identification and Characterization of Noncrystalline Materials
Micro-Fabric of Rocks and Soils
Identification and Characterization of Organic Particles

Sampling and Sample Handling
The Nature of Samples and Their Limitations
General Sampling Guidance
Sampling Strategies for Control Samples
Size and Type of Sample
Sampling Tools and Sample Containers
Sample Labeling and Associated Information
Sample Storage
Questioned Soil Samples from Items Submitted for Forensic Examination

Evaluation of the Significance of Geological and Soil Evidence
General Procedures and Principles
Exploratory Data Analysis
"Classical" Hypothesis Testing
Correlation and Regression Analysis
Multivariate Analysis
Combined Approaches
Assessment of Coincidence Probabilities and Likelihood Ratios
Direct Data Comparison: Deciding If Two Samples are Indistinguishable, Similar, or Different
Use of Multi-Technique Comparison Data to Determine Exclusion/Include
Geological and Soil Databases and Database Interrogation
Evaluation of the Overall Strength of Geological and Soil Evidence
The Future

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"This is a thoroughly useful book which did not disappoint me. It will certainly help to provide a platform for better communication. It is well referenced and has a good index to ensure easier navigation through its content. Well worth adding to any serious forensic library!"

– James Robertson, National Manager, Forensic and Technical, Australian Federal Police, Palgrave, September 2008