GEOSC 111: Forensic Geoscience
Instructor: Dr. Maureen Feineman
3 credits, offered annually in the Fall
fulfills GN requirement
Forensic Geoscience is the application of geological techniques and concepts to solving crimes.  In this course, we will look at the fundamental principles of stratigraphy and how they can be used to determine a sequence of events, either in the geologic record or at the scene of a crime.  Students will learn about the many types of physical evidence, focusing in particular on those that involve earth materials (soils, sand, mineral dust) or that can be analyzed using techniques commonly applied to geologic problems (for example, analyzing shards of glass from a hit and run accident using a scanning electron microscope).  Basic mineralogy, sedimentology, and petrology will be introduced in the context of trace evidence.  Common techniques used by both geoscientists and crime scene investigators, including fluorescence, microscopy, ground-penetrating radar, magnetometry, and seismology will be covered.  Students will learn how and when it is possible to make a statistically meaningful comparison of naturally variable samples present only in trace amounts.  Finally, students will use the material they have learned in class to write an original mystery in which geological evidence plays a key role in solving a crime.
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes”
- Sherlock Holmes
The Hound of the Baskervilles