Geological and Soil Evidence: Forensic Applications, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Geological and Soil Evidence

Forensic Applications, 1st Edition

By Kenneth Pye

CRC Press

356 pages | 8 Color Illus. | 130 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2007-04-19
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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.


"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

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



Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
SCIENCE / Chemistry / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / General