Predictive geolocation: forensic soil analysis for provenance determination

Duncan Pirrie, Lorna Dawson, Giles Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Soil forensics is most commonly used to test an association
between soils at a known location with soils recovered from exhibits recovered from a suspect. This type of comparative analysis is now a routine technique in many laboratories world-wide. Soils are however, very complex materials made up of natural inorganic, organic and manmade components. The distribution and abundance of these components is generally controlled by a range of predictable factors, such as bedrock geology, surface processes, plant and animal biogeographical distributions and anthropogenic processes. As such, the composition of a soil can be used as a predictive tool to describe the nature of the location where that soil originated. This approach to soil forensics, termed predictive geolocation, has many applications in criminal, environmental and intelligence based investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2017


  • Forensic geology (as geoforensics), scientific study of geological materials
  • Predictive geolocation
  • soil forensics
  • composition of a soil as a predictive tool


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