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Journey history reconstruction from the soils and sediments on footwear: An empirical approach

Morgan, RM; Scott, KR; Ainley, J; Bull, PA; (2018) Journey history reconstruction from the soils and sediments on footwear: An empirical approach. Science and Justice 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.11.002. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The value of environmental evidence for reconstructing journey histories has significant potential given the high transferability of sediments and the interaction of footwear with the ground. The importance of empirical evidence bases to underpin the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of forensic trace materials is increasingly acknowledged. This paper presents two experimental studies designed to address the transfer and persistence of sediments on the soles of footwear in forensically relevant scenarios, by means of quartz grain surface texture analysis, a technique which has been demonstrated to be able to distinguish between samples of mixed provenance. It was identified that there is a consistent trend of transfer and persistence of sediments from hypothetical pre-, syn- and post-crime event locations across the sole of the shoe, with sediments from ‘older’ locations likely to be retained in small proportions. Furthermore, the arch of the shoe (the area of lowest foot pressure distribution) typically (but not exclusively) retained the highest proportion of grain types from previous locations including the crime scene. A lack of chronological layering of the retained sediments was observed indicating that techniques that can identify the components of mixed provenance samples are important for analysing footwear sediment samples. It was also identified that the type of footwear appeared to have an influence on what particles were retained, with high relief soles that incorporate recessed areas being more likely to retain sediments transferred from ‘older’ locations from the journey history. In addition, the inners of footwear were found to retain sediments from multiple locations from the journey history that are less susceptible to differential loss in comparison to the outer sole. These findings provide important data that can form the basis for the effective collection, analysis and interpretation of sediments recovered from both the outer soles and inners of footwear, building on the findings of previously published studies. These data offer insights that enable inferences to be made about mixed source sediments that are identified on footwear in casework, and provide the beginnings of an empirical basis for assessing the significance of such sediment particles for a specific forensic reconstruction.

Type: Article
Title: Journey history reconstruction from the soils and sediments on footwear: An empirical approach
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.11.002
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2018.11.002
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY-NC-ND/4.0/).
Keywords: Environmental trace evidence, Footwear, Quartz grain surface texture analysis, Transfer, Persistence, Forensic reconstruction
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10063707
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