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Online ISSN 1827-1677
Oxford University Centre for the Environment University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Forensic geoscience is based upon well established ideas and analytical techniques developed throughout the 20th century. Recent advances in geological and chemical analytical techniques have enabled, for the first time, detailed soil and sediment assay which has been taken up particularly by British scientists. A conceptual framework for forensic geoscience is reiterated which supports the positive development in the future of forensic geoscience, soil and sediment analyses. However, this paper also seeks to highlight the pitfalls encountered in recent years: the use of analytical techniques that are dependent upon one another; the dependence on the exotic components of a sample, whether they are representative or not; the confusion between descriptive; exclusionary and diagnostic techniques, and the failure to comprehend the requirement to exclude rather than to match comparison samples. Furthermore, the use of automated, computer driven, multiple-sample analytical machinery is questioned when there is no visual assessment by an operator included in the procedure. Avoiding these pitfalls and adopting the philosophical framework specific to forensic geoscience will ensure a role for the application of forensic geoscience in the field of criminal investigations.