Volume 41, Issue 1 (January 1996)
Assessing the Unique Characteristics of Close-Proximity Soil Samples: Just How Useful Is Soil Evidence?
An evaluation of current techniques used in the forensic analysis of soils and geologic evidence. Research was performed to determine the discriminative qualities of the various procedures to discern at what point soils become indistinguishable from one another. Included in this research is an assessment of the techniques from an analyst standpoint to determine what level of advanced mineralogical examination is required to segregate one sample from another.
One hundred samples were collected from three different sites; a beach, an island isolated by a river, and a bus parking lot. The samples were analyzed utilizing color determination, particle size distribution analysis and mineralogical profiles of the twenty-five most common soil minerals. Of the three hundred samples examined, over one-half could be discriminated by color alone, the remainder needing only particle size distributions analysis for differentiation, negating the need for lengthy mineralogical examinations. These examinations were conducted with very inexpensive equipment and calculations which could be used with a minimum of training and cost.