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An Introduction to Forensic Geoscience

ISBN: 978-1-4051-6054-4
514 pages
April 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
An Introduction to Forensic Geoscience (1405160543) cover image


An Introduction to Forensic Geoscience provides fundamental training in geoscience as developed through the lens of its forensic applications. It incorporates a range of topics including geophysical methods of grave detection, the mineralogy of art, identification of microfossils, and comparison of soil trace evidence samples. Each topic is introduced using core concepts that are developed with increasing complexity in order to give readers an understanding of the underlying scientific principles involved and a taste of the wide range of possible forensic uses. A variety of detailed reference tables have been compiled for the text and each chapter contains lists of references to applicable textbooks and journal articles. Examples of real criminal cases are also presented in each chapter to make the connections between theory and real world application. The goal of this book is to give readers a familiarity with the wide range of ways in which geoscience principles and geological materials can be utilized forensically.

Additional resources for this book can be found at: http://www.wiley.com/go/bergslien/forensicgeoscience.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures vii

List of Color Plates xxv

List of Cases xxviii

Preface xxx

Acknowledgments xxxii

1 A Brief History of Forensic Science and Crime Scene Basics 1

Scene of the Crime 14

Processing the Crime Scene 16

Types of Evidence 20

Further Reading 22

References 23

2 Minerals: The Basic Building Blocks of Geology 24

Mineralogical Fraud 24

Minerals 29

Types of Bonding 34

Mineral Groups 43

Properties of Minerals 46

Summary 62

Further Reading 62

References 62

3 Rocks: Storybooks of the Earth 63

The Rock Cycle 65

Properties of Rocks 67

Igneous Rocks 69

Sedimentary Rocks 78

Metamorphic Rocks 93

Summary 102

Further Reading 102

References 102

4 Maps: Getting a Sense of Place 103

Global Location Systems 104

Maps in the United Kingdom 115

The Global Positioning System 115

Maps 117

Remote Sensing and Other Resources 127

Summary 130

Further Reading 130

References 131

5 Sand: To See the World in a Grain of Sand 132

An Introduction to Sand 137

Characterizing Sand 139

Surface Features 152

Sample Collection 155

Sample Preparation 156

The Stereomicroscope 157

Forensic Examination of Sand 157

Common Minerals 159

Less Common Minerals 160

Opaque Minerals 160

Anthropogenic Materials 160

Summary 163

Further Reading 165

References 166

6 Gems and Gemstones: Those Most Precious of all Minerals 168

An Introduction to Gemstones 170

Crystal Forms 171

The Petrographic Microscope 175

Light and the Optical Properties of Minerals 177

The Forensic Identifi cation of Glass 182

More Optical Properties 187

Isotropic versus Anisotropic Minerals 191

Anisotropic Crystals 193

Other Important Properties of Gems and Gemstones 201

Identifying Gems and Gemstones 202

Organic Gemstones 216

Summary 218

Further Reading 218

References 218

7 Soil: Getting the Dirt on Crime 220

Introduction to Soils 223

Soil Horizons 223

Soil Origins 225

Phyllosilicates (Sheet Silicates) 227

Some Important Clay Minerals 231

Soil Classification 237

Soil Color 237

Soil Moisture 242

Particle Size 243

Sample Collection 245

Simplified Manual Dry Sieve Method for Particle Size Analysis 246

Soil Classification Schemes 249

Soil Survey Maps 251

USDA Textural Classification 252

The ASTM Unified Soil Classification System (USCS): D-2487 253

Scene Examination 256

Visual Examination of Soil Evidence 256

Examination Procedures for Soil Samples 257

An Introduction to X-ray Diffraction Spectrometry (XRD) 264

Interpreting a Diffraction Pattern 272

Summary 279

Further Reading 279

References 279

8 The Geology of Art 281

Geologic Media and Art Forgery 285

Mineral Pigments 287

Black Pigments 289

White Pigments 290

Earth Colors: Red Yellow Orange and Brown Pigments 295

Blue Pigments 298

Green Pigments 302

Collecting a Sample for Microscopic Examination (McCrone 1982) 305

Raman Spectroscopy 307

Chromatography 312

Inks 314

Summary 314

Further Reading 314

References 315

9 Fossils and Microfossils: Traces of Life 317

Geologic Time and Index Fossils 317

An Introduction to Fossils 322

A Brief Introduction to the Classification of Fossils 329

Invertebrate Paleontology 332

Micropaleontology 354

Collection and Treatment 358

Scanning Electron Microscope 368

Is It Legal to Take This Fossil? 378

Rare-earth Elements 379

Summary 379

References 380

10 Geology and People: Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Archeology 383

Locating Ground Disturbances 384

Search 385

Geophysical Tools 390

Magnetometry 390

Electrical Resistivity (ER) 400

Electromagnetic Induction (EMI) 408

Specialized EMI: Metal Detectors 411

Ground-penetrating Radar (GPR) 412

Search and Post-search Operations 423

Elemental and Mineralogical Analysis of Human Bone 424

Summary 428

Further Reading 428

References 428

11 Environmental Forensics: Tracking Pollution to its Source 431

Water: Our Most Precious Natural Resource 433

Surface Water 434

Clean Water Act 436


Groundwater 440

Contaminant Hydrogeology 448

Safe Drinking Water Act 450

Water-quality Measurements 450

Field Water-quality Measurements 452

Water Contamination 455

Analytical Techniques for Chemical Fingerprinting 462

Isotopes in the Environment 463

Summary 470

References 471

Index 472

Color Plates appear between pages 224 and 225


This book has a companion website: www.wiley.com/go/bergslien/forensicgeoscience with Figures and Tables from the book

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Author Information

Elisa Bergslien is an Associate Professor at Buffalo State College. With a background in contaminant hydrogeology, she has been involved with the environmental law aspects of geology for years. In 2005, she begin teaching a Forensic Geoscience course as an elective for a well established Forensic Chemistry program and has been involved in research developing the science behind many of the assumptions used in forensic trace evidence examination. She is currently serving as the Information Officer for the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) Initiative on Forensic Geology.
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“Overall, the book is well produced on acid-free, high-quality paper. In addition to the colour plates (also available online), there are many helpful line drawings and a host of Tables with useful information. I suggest that even professional geoscientists involved in forensic work might welcome this book as an aide-memoire. In addition, it is very good value at the price.”  (Soil Use and Management, 1 December 2012)

“The well-written book contains a wealth of information in the form of determinative tables and illustrations.  Anyone interested in geology and forensics will find this a useful resource.  Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Lower-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners.”  (Choice, 1 November 2012)

"Apart introducing the interested layman to the fascinating applications of geoforensics, “An Introduction to Forensic Geoscience” can also be used by teachers and undergraduate students of earth sciences as resourceful “physical geology” textbook, even if the book addresses the U.S. market, as many cited laws or classification schemes are valid only in the States.
Students or professionals in forensic sciences will profit from an easily accessible text to geological concepts, which emphasize the strengths – but also the limitations – of geology applied to the prosecution of crimes." David Bressan, Scientific American (11 October 2012)

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