Forensic Pedology

DOI10.1177/0032258X6904200305
AuthorKenneth Newton,Michael Brooks
Publication Date01 March 1969
Date01 March 1969
SubjectArticle
DR.
MICHAEL
BROOKS
AND
DET.
CH.
INSP.
KENNETH
NEWTON
Dr. Brooks is Lecturer in Geology, University College
of
Swansea,
and Mr. Newton is a member
of
the Cheshire Constabulary. They
argue that pedology, the study
of
soils, has valuable help to give in
C.LD. work.
FORENSIfJ PEDOLOGY
Introduction
Even in everyday activities clothing, and especially footwear, often
becomes contaminated with soil or
"mud".
We may carry this soil
for hours or even days before depositing it, commonly .on a
carpet or a chair! In criminal cases, soil occasionally features by
virtue of its discovery at the scene of a crime and/or on the clothing
of a suspect.
If
the movements
of
the suspect at about the time of the
crime are at issue, a leading clue may be obtained if the provenance
of the soil (i.e., its place of origin) can be established; or a case may
hinge on establishing whether two soil specimens are essentially
similar or dissimilar.
The importance of soil or mud fragments in criminal investiga-
tions has long been recognized: see, for example, Dr. Gross's
Criminal Investigation (1934), p. 146. But the full potentialities of
soil in this context are far from having been realized. The present
article is concerned to show the diverse ways in which soils differ one
from another and to stress the possible value
of
these differences in
criminal investigations.
What is Soil?
Soil forms a thin outer layer to the Earth, and is composed largely
of small rock particles together with living and dead organic matter.
Soil is
dynamic-that
is, it undergoes change through time.
If
we
were to strip the soil layer off a portion of the Earth's surface and
expose bare rock, a new soil would develop gradually due to de-
composition of the rock and the influx of plant and animal life.
Soil results from a natural reaction between the atmosphere and the
solid earth involving organic activity.
The rock underlying a soil is known as the parent material of the
soil and it is a very important factor among the many that determine
the nature of a soil; others are climate, type of organic activity,
local land form and the length of time over which the soil has been
developing.
Our main concern in this article is the differences of soil type
brought about by different types of parent material. Expressed
differently, we were interested in the influence of the local geology
on the resulting soil layer.
March 1969 107

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