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Forensic Comparison of Soil Samples Using Nondestructive Elemental Analysis

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Soil can play an important role in forensic cases in linking suspects or objects to a crime scene by comparing samples from the crime scene with samples derived from items. This study uses an adapted ED‐XRF analysis (sieving instead of grinding to prevent destruction of microfossils) to produce elemental composition data of 20 elements. Different data processing techniques and statistical distances were evaluated using data from 50 samples and the log‐LR cost (Cllr). The best performing combination, Canberra distance, relative data, and square root values, is used to construct a discriminative model. Examples of the spatial resolution of the method in crime scenes are shown for three locations, and sampling strategy is discussed. Twelve test cases were analyzed, and results showed that the method is applicable. The study shows how the combination of an analysis technique, a database, and a discriminative model can be used to compare multiple soil samples quickly.
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Keywords: Canberra distance; elemental composition; energy‐dispersive X‐ray fluorescence; forensic science; soil comparison; trace evidence

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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