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Dr Alastair Ruffell

Dr. Alastair Ruffell - Queen's University Belfast Research Portal - Research Directory & Institutional Repository for QUB
Alastair Ruffell

Direct phone: +44 (0)28 9097 3407

For media contact email
or call +44(0)2890 973091.



I work mainly in using Earth science techniques in forensics, both in the search for hidden objects (bodies, buried materials) and in trace evidence analysis.  This work has been applied to two Knowledge Transfer Partnership grants, one on imaging vulnerable historic buildings and structures (essentially, a forensic search) and the other on sub-aqueous mapping of bridges, piers etc, essentially water-based searches.

I bring 5-10 consultancy projects to Queens each year, from forensic analysis, through environmental crime to assessment of ground conditions. Three recent grant awards underpin much of my research - two associated with the TellusBorder SEUPB-funded project and FRAGSUS, an EU-funded project on fragile island communities with Caroline Malone here at Queen's (and colleagues).



Research Statement




  • Five current research council grants, totalling over £500,000.
  • Top score (4*) for my Geoforensics Impact Statement in UK Government Research Excellence Framework (2014).
  • Total (including collaborative) grant earnings exceed £9 million over 30 years.
  • Published over 125 peer-reviewed papers and one book.
  • Completed over 130 major (over £1000) consultancy projects, mainly on Geoforensics.
  • Collaborative projects in 10 countries worldwide, Training Officer for the IUGS-funded Initiative on Forensic Geology (£15,000 per year)
  • Health & Safety Coordinator; formerly Director of Education, Postgraduate Coordinator, completed Queen’s Leadership course.
  • Teaching includes geology, geomorphology, GIS, climate change, field classes throughout the UK, Ireland, Mediterranean, Geoforensics, Masters level geophysics.





1. Remote sensing and geophysics for archaeology (€2.6 million European Research Council FRAGSUS grant: PI Professor Malone)


2. TellusBorder peat depth monitoring for carbon stocks (£4.5 million INTERREG [EU] with £72,000 to Ruffell & colleagues).


3. TellusBorder remote sensing of illegally buried waste (£72,000 to Ruffell & colleagues).


4. Volcanology/glaciology (£47,000 EPSRC Ph.D studentship: CI Ruffell).


5. Artefact analysis (€90,000 Marie Curie Fellowship: Linda Bouteille).


6. Quantifying the impact of wildfires in N.Ireland N.Ireland (£125,000, jointly to School of Biology and GAP, both QUB). Environment Agency, National Museums of N.Ireland and CEDaR funding. CI to Ruth Kelly.




- Using non-destructive geological techniques in landscape and material analysis for forensic, archaeological, geological and geomorphological research.


- Forensic research. Multiproxy methods (remote sensing, geophysics, landscape interpretation) for the search of buried and sunk items. Trace evidence analysis methods for criminal investigations.


- Consultancy for engineering companies, the police and environment agencies and the Independent Commission for the Recovery of Victims Remains.


GAP1007 Dynamic Earth

GAP2002 Landscapes & Geographic Information Systems

GAP 2046 Techniques in Earth Sciences (Malta & Gozo)

GAP2040 Geographical Research & Professional Development

GAP 3049 Geoforensics


Frequent Journals

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Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

ID: 14407