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Soils and Soil Analysis


Spores paint metals concrete Bricks Vegetation Soil s composition is controlled by 5 major ... Topography Time Forensic Significance of Soil Soil is class ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Soils and Soil Analysis

Soils and Soil Analysis
What Is Soil?
  • Mixture of organic and inorganic material
  • May range from 100 inorganic (sand) to nearly
    100 organic (peat)
  • Inorganic part is minerals
  • Organic part is decayed plant and animal material
    and is sometimes called humas

Forensic Definition of Soil
  • Includes anything mixed in the soil such as
  • Bits of grass 9. Seeds
  • Cinders 10. Animal matter
  • Asphalt 11. Spores
  • paint
  • metals
  • concrete
  • Bricks
  • Vegetation

Soils composition is controlled by 5 major
  1. Climate
  2. Parent material
  3. Living organisms
  4. Topography
  5. Time

Forensic Significance of Soil
  • Soil is class evidence - cannot be individualized
    to a particular location
  • There is no classification system for soils
  • Soils can be easily transported
  • Soils within a few meters horizontally or
    vertically differ

Soil Categories no true classification system
Soil Samples
  • Probably one of the most important samples taken.
  • Soil samples can be taken from ground around
  • a broken window
  • a footprint
  • Car tires
  • An object found at the crime scene
  • And include dust from window sills, floors,
    carpets and clothing.

Forensic Analysis of Soils
  • Bulk analysis
  • Density gradient if two soils came from the
    same location they should contain particles of
    the same densities.
  • Particle size distribution (sieving) if two
    samples came from the same location they should
    have the same range of particle size.

  • Inorganic components
  • Color (dissolve in water)
  • Petrography - mineral analysis Requires a good
    deal of skill and practice
  • Acidity of Soil

Forensic Analysis of Soils
  • Organic components
  • Liquid chromatography
  • Oxygen availability
  • Bacterial DNA? - Future possibility

Some Interesting? Cases Where Geological Evidence
Has Been Important
  • Florida v. William Kennedy Smith
  • South Dakota v. Donald Eugene Moeller
  • Colorado v. Walter Osborne
  • The Death of a DEA agent Enrico Camarena

Florida v. William Kennedy Smith
  • WKS accused of rape of Patricia Bowman
  • Alleged attack on grass lawn behind Kennedy
    estate in W. Palm Beach, Fl
  • WKS alleged consensual sex on the beach near
  • Jay Siegel used PLM to compare samples from
    clothing of victim to lawn and beach areas
  • Samples consistent with beach, not lawn
  • WKS acquitted of rape

South Dakota v. Donald Eugene Moeller
  • Capital murder case of 9-year old Becky OConnell
    on May 8, 1990.
  • Testimony by soil expert refutes defendant alibi
  • Victim snatched off street, raped, killed, body
    dumped in woods.
  • Suspicion fell on Defendant because of prior sex
    crime involvement.
  • Found guilty and sentenced to death. Appeal
    resulted in reversal owing to admission of
    evidence of prior bad acts.

South Dakota v. Donald Eugene Moeller (cont.)
  • SD Supreme Court reversed and reinstated
  • State geologist analyzed soil found in wheel
    wells of defendant pickup truck. Issue was
    whether soil came from crime scene South of Sioux
    Falls or from a road North of Sioux Falls where
    defendant claimed he was at time of crime
  • Geologist testified that soil could have come
    from crime scene.
  • Opinion based on
  • Colors and general characteristics
  • Soil was much lighter or could not have come from
    other roads in area
  • Sharp, clean hornblende crystals much more
    likely to have come from crime scene area

South Dakota v. Donald Eugene Moeller (cont)
  • Part of appeal called for striking geologists
    testimony as being too speculative as to
  • At 2nd trial, geologist came into more evidence
    from scene and wheel well dark green to black
    gahnite found at scene and in evidence from
    truck. This mineral extremely rare.

South Dakota v. Donald Eugene Moeller (cont)
  • Defense argued that geologist erred in
    identifying gahnite only by visual inspection.
    Claimed that PLM should have been used (to
    confirm that gahnite is isotropic) and that x-ray
    diffraction should have been used to confirm.
    Appeals court rejected appeal
  • There was no discussion at trial whether the
    finding of both hornblende and gahnite near Sioux
    Falls was a rarity or could be due to processing
    after mining elsewhere. Bedrock of Sioux Falls
    contains neither hornblende nor gahnite.

Colorado v. Walter Osborne
  • Osborne botches kidnapping of Adolph Coors from
    his ranch near Morrison and kills Coors
  • Ranch is near Dakota Hogback which is made of
    Dakota sandstone underlain by gray, green and
    maroon clay stones, shales, more sandstone and
    limestone. Dirt road near ranch was essentially
    eroded, pulverized components of hogback.

Colorado v. Walter Osborne (cont)
  • During kidnapping, a fight broke out and Osborne
    shot Coors. Fled in Osbornes yellow Mercury
    with body. Fled south onto an unpaved road in
    next county. Then went west and climbed. Road
    made of muddled dust pink-feldspar. Dust was
    granite, but compared to bedrock was deficient in
    iron and magnesium.
  • As he climbed further, came into Pikes Peak
    granite very distinctive.

Colorado v. Walter Osborne (cont)
  • At 7200 ft, Osborne dumped body in dump used by
    an Ashram. Body would not be found for 7 months.
  • Osborne went east and went on an unpaved road of
    black slags and drifted sands on a New Jersey
    barrier island. He hid car and torched it with

Colorado v. Walter Osborne (cont)
  • FBI investigation turned up Osborne in New Jersey
  • Although Osborne (discovered to be Joseph
    Corbett, Jr) covered his tracks well but was
    writing his itinerary on the bottom of his car.
  • 4 depositional strata found
  • 4th contained material from around New Jersey
    dump where he burned car
  • 3rd contained pink feldspars of Pikes Peak
    granite near where body was found
  • 2nd had materials from Morrison hogback formation
    around Coors rangch
  • 1st had pink feldspars of other Front Range
    granites generally related to Rocky Mountain
    Front Range

Death of a DEA Agent Enrico Camarena
  • Story of how FBI geologist, Ron Rawalt was able
    to determine, with certainty, where Camarena body
    was buried, thus showing that Mexican govt. lied
    about how he was killed.
  • He noticed a TV report of the killings. The body
    was shown with soil clinging to it. The soil was
    obviously of a different color than the soil from
    the alleged burial site.

Death of a DEA Agent Enrico Camarena (cont)
  • He told the govt. that he could prove, with soil
    analysis alone, that Mexican govt. was lying
    about the murder.
  • He went to Mexico and collected a spoonful of
    soil from Camarena body. He compared that to the
    soil from the alleged burial site and found them
    to be entirely different.

Death of a DEA Agent Enrico Camarena (cont)
  • Soil from body
  • Spoke of mountains
  • 98 rhyolite ash (clean, high in silica, angular,
    vesicular) could be described as airfall
  • Bixbyite blacker than coal
  • Pink glass of exceptional depth and richness of
    color, he had never seen anything like it, except
    in candy
  • 2 kinds of cristobalite opalized and clear,
    elongate and faceted, clear polygonal columns
    (octehedrons). Resembled branch coral. Very
    rare to find both types together.

Death of a DEA Agent Enrico Camarena (cont)
  • Pinpointing location
  • Research with Geological Survey and Smithsonian
    minerologists located specific location A
    Jalisco state park called Bosques de la Primvera.
    Cristabolite was the result of a third-event
    calderea formation.
  • Location is on upslope of mountain in park or
    park itself
  • Rawalt flew to Mexico as DEA agent (FBI agents
    were not allowed in to investigate

Death of a DEA Agent Enrico Camarena (cont)
  • While Rawalt was in Mexico searching for the area
    of burial, FBI was approached about a French
    consultant, Loic Le Ribault. He was the head
    petrologist for the French national oil company
    and was said to be able to do things geologically
    speaking, that other people couldnt do. Show
    him a few grains of sand and he could tell you
    where they came from

Death of a DEA Agent Enrico Camarena (cont)
  • Le Ribault
  • FBI tested him by giving him 3 samples
  • Ash from Mt. St. Helens
  • Alluvium from river delta in S. Carolina related
    to recent murder
  • Dirt from girders taken from bomb site in Beirut,
  • Ribaults results
  • Got location of ash from Mt. St. Helens within a
    few miles of source
  • River basin in American Southest
  • Bekaa valley in Lebanon soil had been subjected
    to explosion

Death of a DEA Agent Enrico Camarena (cont)
  • Le Ribaults contribution to Camarena case
  • Was showed samples from park and body. He said
    you are there, but not there. Right elevation,
    but these are samples (from park) from an area
    washing north. The site is an area washing
  • Sand deposited by water 4-5 ft. deep in a draw.
    Slope of draw lt10 degrees. Shade predominates.
  • Rawalt found exact location from this data.