Forensic geology exhumed



Forensic geology binds applied geology to the world of legal controversy and action. However, the term “forensic” is often misconstrued. Although even some attorneys apply it only to the marshalling of evidence in criminal cases, it has a much broader definition. One dictionary defines it as “pertaining to, connected with, or used in courts of law or public discussion and debate.” The American Geological Institute's Glossary of Geology defines forensic geology as “the application of the Earth sciences to the law.” The cited reference to Murray and Tedrow [1975], however, deals mostly if not exclusively with the gathering and use of evidence in criminal cases, despite the widespread involvement of geologists in more general legal matters. It seems appropriate to “exhume” geology's wider application to the law, which is encompassed by forensic geology.