Student research makes a difference: forensic geophysics controlled research and casework

Geoscience Seminar, speaker Dr Jamie K Pringle, Senior Lecturer in Geosciences, Keele University.


The use of forensic geoscientific techniques and methods in the search for clandestinely buried objects is increasing, as locating forensically important materials is crucial for criminal and civil convictions to proceed. Current best practice search methods suggest a phased approach, moving from large-scale remote sensing methods to ground reconnaissance and control studies before full searches are initiated.

Near-surface geophysical methods rely on there being a detectable physical contrast between the target and background (or host) materials. These have been used to locate clandestine graves in a number of criminal search investigations, some of which will be reported here.  Geophysical surveys collected over simulated burials have also been undertaken to collect control data, both to predict anomalies and to assist interpretation, although responses vary both temporally after burial and between different study sites.

This presentation will show examples of both, and of how student-led collaborative research has made a real difference to pushing forward this field of forensic geophysics recently.