Multimodal spectroscopy with chemometrics for the forensic analysis of Western Australian sandy soils

02 March 2022, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


This study demonstrates a multi-modal analytical sequence suited to the characterisation of sandy soils, which remain an underutilised form of forensic trace evidence. Within the Swan Coastal Plain in Perth, Western Australia, most soils are heavily leached with only small deviations in their mineral compositions. Their lack of clay and organic matter has led to inorganic methods of analysis predominating, in addition to experimentation with modified techniques. One example is utilisation of the quartz-recovered fine fraction, which is suitable for dry, quartz-dominated sandy soils. In this study, preliminary investigations used the spectroscopic techniques microspectrophotometry, infrared spectroscopy, and x-ray diffraction, to develop a multi-faceted approach for the forensic analysis of the quartz fine fraction of soils. These data were then combined with principal component analysis to demonstrate how chemometrics can assist with objective characterisation and differentiation of sandy soil samples for forensic purposes. Chemometric analysis has not previously been attempted with data obtained from the quartz fine fraction. This methodology is transferable to other jurisdictions where dry, sandy soils predominate.


Forensic science

Supplementary materials

Graphical abstract
Quokka on a Western Australian sandy beach with blue sky, crime scene markers and tape.


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.