Forensic geoscience: introduction and overview
The nature of forensic geoscience
Forensic geoscience may be defined as a subdiscipline of geoscience that is concerned with the application of geological and wider environmental science information and methods to investigations which may come before a court of law. The scientific boundaries of forensic geoscience are not clearly defined, and there are significant overlaps with other, related subdisciplines such as forensic archaeology (Hunter et al. 1987), forensic anthropology, forensic botany (Hall 2002; Horrocks & Walsh 1998), forensic engineering (Shuirman & Slosson 1992) and even forensic medicine and forensic pathology (Knight 1997; DiMaio & DiMaio 2001). Forensic geoscience is concerned with all aspects of earth materials, including rocks, sediments, soil, air and water, and with a wide range of natural phenomena and processes. Since modern sediments and soil also often contain objects and particles of human origin, man-made materials such as brick, concrete, ceramics, glass and various other industrial products and raw materials are also sometimes of interest. These may be of relatively modern origin or of archaeological importance (e.g. Henderson 2002).
Forensic geology (Murray & Tedrow 1975, 1992) may be regarded as a subset of forensic geoscience and is principally concerned with studies of rocks, sediments, minerals, soils and dusts. Environmental forensics (Morrison 2000; Murphy & Morrison 2002), on the other hand, has somewhat wider scope than forensic geoscience, with much stronger links to disciplines such as chemical engineering, and with a greater concern with such issues as groundwater contamination and air pollution modelling.
Forensic geoscience is by nature
Figures & Tables
Forensic Geoscience: Principles, Techniques and Applications
Forensic geoscience is an increasingly important sub-discipline within geoscience and forensic science. Although minerals, soils, dusts and rock fragments have been used as only begun to be recognized in the last ten years or so. The police and other investigative bodies are keen to encourage such developments in the fight against crime, particularly since many criminals show a high level of forensic awareness with regard to evidence such as fingerprints, blood and other body fluids. The papers in this volume illustrate some of the main principles, techniques and applications in current forensic geoscience, covering research and casework in the UK and internationally. The techniques described range from macro-scale field geophysical investigations to micro-scale laboratory studies of the chemical and textural properties of individual particles. In addition to forensic applications, many of these techniques have broad utility in geological, geomorphological, soil science and archaeological research.