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Natural Justice: Soil Science and Criminal Investigations

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Natural Justice and a Sense of Place: Some Examples of Soil as Intelligence and Evidence

Forensic soil science is an increasingly important discipline, involving soils, minerals, dusts, plants and rock fragments to determine provenance i.e. to provide a chronology of their ownership, custody or location. Soil materials have been used as forensic trace evidence for many years, even in Roman times, and are often highly distinctive from one region to another. In an attempt to inform the public, Prof Dawson has been working with TV and through print media to show the correct methodology, where methods can be used as well as understanding and explaining the potential limitations of methods. Authors often like to create a sense of place, with soil and vegetation providing clues of where in the landscape a crime may have been committed. The talk will cover both examples from real case work and from fiction where evidence from the earth has been of importance in helping to solve the crime and to bring about natural justice.

Professor Lorna Dawson, CBE , BSC, PhD, FRSE , FRSA, F.I.Soil.Sci., ChSci Head of Forensic Soil Science, The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, United Kingdom. AB15 8QH , Aberdeen, Scotland, UK;

This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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