IUGS IFG at the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) 1-5 August 2022, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Image of the invited panel of experts, including IUGS-IFG, at the session on ‘The application of soil science in the criminal justice system’.

The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS-IFG), working cooperatively with International Union of Soil Science (IUSS) British Society of Soil Science (BSSS and the Geological Society of London, Forensic Geoscience Group (GSL-FGG), brought together a diverse range of geological and soil experts to provide information on topics covering search, crime scene examination, trace evidence analysis, geohazards and crimes associated with the mining, minerals and metals industries. 

As part of the academic conference programme of the WCSSon 3 August 2022, IUGS-IFG convened and chaired a session on: ‘The application of soil science in the criminal justice system’. We were honoured to have the session opened with a keynote presentation delivered by a Detective Chief Inspector from Police Scotland, recognising the important roles that forensic geology and soil science can play in crime investigation and help to bring justice, in a presentation entitled: ‘The role of physical evidence in the investigation/detection of major crime in Scotland’. Other presentations in the formal session by IUGS-IFG included: ‘Trace evidence comparison between soil on footwear and reference site locations: applications to a murder investigation’; ‘Geology and civil protection: when foreseeable hydrological disasters cause victims’; ‘Forensic fingerprinting (provenance determination) in the predictive geolocation of the global trade in illicit minerals and metals’; and ‘Soil material evidence in two crime investigations both primary and secondary transferences of soil materials’. Representation of delegates at the event were from Scotland, England, Wales, Italy, Germany, USA and Australia.  A panel debate was held in the final session of the forensics event where presenters discussed the many facets of forensic soil science and geology and answered questions from the delegates. The session was very attended by over 100 delegates, with- standing room only. 

IUGS IFG at the World Congress of Soil Science Attendees.

In addition, on 1 August 2022, IUGS IFG delivered a keynote presentation entitled ‘Ethics and law in forensic soil science and forensic geology: developing a global White Paper’, in a session on, ‘History, philosophy and sociology of soil science’ and IUGS-IFG chaired a session on, ‘Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: How to move towards gender equality?’ with a keynote presentation entitled, ‘Gender Equity in Soil Science: A View from Multiple Countries’. IUGS-IFG also presented on the topic of: ‘Raising the professionalism in forensic geology and soil science’. A range of soil and geological materials (maps, soil archival material, GIS tools, etc.) were presented at a communications booth, where discussions were held between the many international delegates and IUGS-IFG members. 

Attendees undertake Demonstrations and Training. 

IUGS-IFG, working cooperatively with GSL-FGG, and in close collaboration with Police Scotland, brought together a group of experts to design and deliver a training session in forensic soil science and geology, including ground searches for burials strategy and evidence recovery. 

A physical training session in the use and application of search techniques for buried objects was held on 3 August 2022, at a location in Glasgow on the north bank of the river Clyde. This involved the Geoforensic Search Strategy (GSS) and incorporated the use of a range of assets, including geophysics, and the use of forensic recovery of evidence buried in the ground. This event was held in collaboration with the Police Scotland training team as an ancillary event at the WCSS. Over 20 Crime Scene Managers from Police Scotland and six forensic scientists received training at the event. In addition, two members of the Federal Bureau of Intelligence and the German Federal police attended the training session. Outputs included the provision of training worksheets in connection with a simulated operational case scenario. The worksheets provided information on the applications of forensic soil science and geology, from preliminary search planning to the appropriate use of geophysical and angering search assets, crime scene sampling, to the provision of evidence in court.

IUGS-IFG funded a professional training video for Police Scotland at this event. This training exercise was planned by James Hutton Institute, GSL-FGG and Queens University of Belfast with Police Scotland. One video will be confidential for use only by Police Scotland for the training of Crime Scene Mangers on the role of forensic geology/soil science in search for buried objects in an outdoor setting and one video will be created for use by IUGS-IFG for teaching and education purposes.  


Lorna Dawson – Lorna.Dawson@hutton.ac.uk
Alastair Ruffell – A.Ruffell@qub.ac.uk



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