Document details for 'Methods of characterising and fingerprinting soils for forensic application'

Authors Dawson, L.A., Campbell, C.D., Hillier, S. and Brewer, M.J.
Publication details In "Soil Analysis in Forensic Taphonomy: Chemical and Biological Effects of Buried Human Remains", 271-315. Eds. Tibbett, M. and Carter, D.O.. Taylor and Francis/CRC Press, London.
Publisher details Taylor and Francis/CRC Press, London
Keywords compositional analysis, DNA fingerprinting, electron microscopy, forensic analysis, infra red spectroscopy, optical microscopy, phospholipid fatty acid analysis, SEM, soil, soil database, wax markers, X-ray powder diffraction
Abstract Forensic examinations at a crime scene can often involve the identification of soil materials. The ability to compare and match samples from different sources and to provide clues to their likely origin is potentially a valuable aid in criminal investigations. Classic soil characterisation methods such as elemental analysis, mineralogy, palynology and optical methods are considered in this chapter, along with new fingerprinting methods, such as Quantitative X-Ray Powder Diffraction (QXRPD), Fourier Transform Infra Red spectroscopy (FTIR), and DNA fingerprinting. The suite of techniques reviewed here can both complement conventional forensic methods and provide new investigative or matching tools where previously none existed. Individual analytical techniques will have different degrees of importance depending on the nature of the criminal case in question, and each method has its strengths for different situations. There is a great need to give more guidance on how to deploy the appropriate techniques for a given situation. As many more methods become quantitative, their use 'in combination' will help to characterise the soil more accurately and thus help to refine and narrow probable origin as well as give increasingly robust sample matches with defined probabilities. In addition, one crucial component of the forensic approach to soil is the development of a set of reference soils and databases, which would enable the estimation of the probability of obtaining accurate soil matches. At present there is no reference 'population' for soils to judge any soil analysis against. However, there are opportunities to use some of these sources to generate the population data needed to test existing and new methods for their accuracy and resolution, and to determine the probability and certainty for the most promising methods.
ISBN 9781420069914
Last updated 2009-02-13
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