Skip to main content
IUGS Initiative on Forensic Geology

British Science Festival, September 13th, 2011

British Science Festival, September 13th, 2011


International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS)

Initiative on Forensic Geology

The Geological Society of London

The Forensic Geology Group of the GSL

Breadford, UK 13th September 2011

Sherlock Holmes to CSI: How Geologists Help Solve Crimes

Tuesday, September 13th
F21 Lecture Theatre: Richmond Building

Event Summary: Find out how forensic geology has gone from a work of fiction to a real life technique for investigating crimes, from describing the soil on a shoe to searching for criminal burials or victims of homicide and natural disasters. Armed with information about various techniques, you can participate in an interactive crime scene investigation - so don't forget your deerstalker!

Event Agenda

  • 15:30 - 15:50 The Renaissance in Forensic Geology: Advances in Forensics Geology in the Past 10 years
    Dr Laurance Donnelly - IUGS Initiative on Forensic Geology
    Forensic Geology can be traced as far back as the middle part of the nineteenth century. However, since about the millennium forensic geology has experienced a global renaissance. This has included the applications of geological (trace) evidence to crime investigations and searches to locate graves and other items buried in the ground. This paper/presentation explores the reasons for the revival
  • 15:50 - 16:10 The story in the sand (part 1)
    Dr Duncan Pirrie - Helford Geoscience LLP
    An individual walks in a landscape; sand grains become lodged on their clothing. Surely one sand grain is the same as any other? Using cutting edge technology and an understanding of geological processes and environments, the forensic geologist unravels the story in the sand. What type of environment, landscape and climate was the sand grain from? Where in the world did our sand grain come from?
  • 16:10 - 16:30 The story in the sand (part 2)
    Professor Lorna Dawson - The James Hutton Institute
    Soil is a matrix of inorganic and organic compounds, each with their own story to tell. The sand, silt and clay provides vital clues as to origin. The organic(or plant and organism derived) can be in various stages of decay and various methods can be used to characterize this material and link back to habitat, such as a crime scene. Artefacts can also provide important contact trace evidence.
  • 16:30 - 16:50 The story in the sand (part 3)
    Dr Jennifer McKinley - Queen's University, Belfast
    The complex nature of soil makes its analysis important for establishing criminal movement. The mix of sand, clay and plant matter in soil provides an individual soil signature for different locations. This presentation explores methods to investigate whether grains of sand in soil taken from a crime scene can be compared to locations of last known movement of the victim and suspect(s).
  • 16:50 - 17:20 CSI: Geology
    General Discussion
    An interactive crime scene investigation using trace evidence
  • 17:20 - 17:30 The culprit is revealed!
Past Events
Past Events