Lorna A. Dawson


In Situ FTIR Analysis of Soils for Forensic Applications

August 01, 2015

A huge amount of information is contained in the FTIR spectra of soils in the mid infrared (MIR) region (4000 to 400 cm-1). The spectra provide an overall chemical profile of the soil, encompassing fundamental vibrations of both the organic and mineral components. Interpretation of the spectrum of individual soils can provide a powerful means of differentiating between samples and therefore has considerable potential for use in forensic applications, and indeed we have successfully used laboratory-based FTIR analysis of soil to provide evidence in forensic casework. In recent years handheld FTIR spectrometers have become available and this makes it possible for in situ or field-based FTIR analysis of soils at a crime scene. However, reliable and tested protocols are not yet available for field-based FTIR analysis of soil. This paper discusses the sampling options for field-based FTIR of soil and describes tests of the methodology we are developing, for a handheld FTIR, on soil samples tested in the context of a mock crime scene.