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The Spatial Distribution of Postblast RDX Residue: Forensic Implications

Authors

  • Nadia Abdul-Karim M.Res.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry, University College London, Christopher Ingold Laboratories, London, U.K
    • Department of Security and Crime Science, University College London, London, U.K
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  • Ruth Morgan D.Phil.,

    1. Department of Security and Crime Science, University College London, London, U.K
    2. Jill Dando Institute, Centre for the Forensic Sciences, University College London, London, U.K
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  • Russell Binions Ph.D.,

    1. Department of Chemistry, University College London, Christopher Ingold Laboratories, London, U.K
    2. School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London, London, U.K
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  • Tracey Temple M.Sc.,

    1. Department of Engineering and Applied Science, Cranfield University, Defence College of Management and Technology, Swindon, U.K
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  • Karl Harrison Ph.D.

    1. Department of Engineering and Applied Science, Cranfield University, Defence College of Management and Technology, Swindon, U.K
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  • Funding provided by the EPSRC (Security Science Doctoral Training Centre, Grant No: EP/G037264/1).

Additional information and reprint request

Nadia Abdul-Karim, M.Res.

Department of Chemistry

University College London

20 Gordon Street

London WC1H 0AJ

U.K.

E-mail: nadia.abdul-karim.10@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Locating exactly where trace explosive residue samples should be sought during sample collection at bomb scenes is not specified in the published literature or guidelines; in this area, it is generally acknowledged that forensic practices are based on tradition rather than evidence. This study investigated patterns in the spatial distribution of postblast 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazocyclohexane residue from a series of unconfined detonations, over a range of sampling sites, and at two different detonation heights. The amount of residue recovered from the sites decreased as a function of distance from the center of the explosion. [Correction added after online publication 27 December 2012: In the preceding sentence, “increased” was corrected to “decreased” to agree with the conclusion of the article.] As the height of the detonations increased, more residues were found from all sampling sites. The findings of this empirical study have a number of important practical implications including determining where residue samples are best sought at crime scenes.

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