Forensic geology

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Forensic geology is the study of evidence relating to minerals, oil, petroleum, and other materials found in the Earth, used to answer questions raised by the legal system.

In 1975, Ray Murray and fellow Rutgers University professor John Tedrow published Forensic Geology.[1]

More recently, in 2008, Alastair Ruffell and Jennifer McKinley, both of Queen's University Belfast, UK, published Geoforensics[2] a book that focuses more on the use of geomorphology and geophysics for searches. In 2010, forensic soil scientist Lorna Dawson of the James Hutton Institute co-edited and contributed chapters to the textbook Criminal and Environmental Soil Forensics.[3] In 2012, Elisa Bergslien, at SUNY Buffalo State, published a general textbook on the topic, An Introduction to Forensic Geoscience. [4]

Early use of forensic geology[edit]

According to Murray, forensic geology began with Sherlock Holmes writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The character Sherlock Holmes claimed to be able to identify where an individual had been by various methods, including his having memorized the exposed geology of London to such a degree that detecting certain clays on a person's shoe would give away a locale. Georg Popp, of Frankfurt, Germany, may have been the first to use soil analysis for linking suspects to a crime scene.[5] In 1891, Hans Gross used microscopic analysis of soils and other materials from a suspect's shoes to link him to the crime scene.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murray, Raymond C. and Tedrow, John C. F. (1975) Forensic Geology: Earth sciences and criminal investigation Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, ISBN 978-0-8135-0794-1; second edition 1992, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, ISBN 978-0-13-327453-0; replaced by Murray, Raymond C. (2004) Evidence from the Earth: Forensic geology and criminal investigation Mountain Press Publications, Missoula, Montana, ISBN 978-0-87842-498-6
  2. ^ Ruffell, Alastair and McKinley, Jennifer (2008) Geoforensics John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex, England, ISBN 978-0-470-05735-3
  3. ^ Criminal and environmental soil forensics. K. Ritz, Lorna Dawson, David Miller. Dordrecht. 2009. ISBN 978-1-4020-9204-6. OCLC 314175891.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Bergslien, Elisa (2012) An Introduction to Forensic Geoscience Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, England, UK, ISBN 978-1-4051-6054-4
  5. ^ Bell, Suzanne (2004) "geology, forensic" The Facts on File Dictionary of Forensic Science Infobase Publishing, New York, page 102, ISBN 978-0-8160-5153-3
  6. ^ Donnelly, Laurance (2011) "The Renaissance in Forensic Geology" Teaching Earth Sciences 36(1): pp. 46–52