Applied Research

Geoforensics and Information Management for crime Investigation (GIMI)

Project Staff - Laurance Donnelly

Laurance DonnellyDr. Laurance Donnelly BSc (Hons), PhD, CSci, CGeol, FGS, EurGeol,
Chartered Engineering and Exploration Geologist
Halcrow Group Limited
Deanway Technology Centre
Wilmslow Road

United Kingdom

Tel: 01625 540 456
Fax: 01625 549 325

Current research activities

Forensic Geology (also known as Geoforensics or Forensic Geoscience) is a specialist branch of geology that is concerned with the applications of geoscience for assisting the police in helping to investigate and solve crimes or for investigating the aftermath of civil engineering failures, natural and main-induced hazards and disasters that require expert witness services.

The main fields for the applications of forensic geology are:

  • The applications of mineral exploration and site investigation techniques to locate buried objects related to criminal activities including weapons, jewellery, money, clothing, or disturbed ground such as murder victims’ graves.
  • The geochemical, mineralogical and petrological analysis of rock or soil fragments from a suspect’s or victims clothing, or body, compared to the geology at the scene of the crime.
  • The acquisition, processing and interpretation or ground based and aerial photograph and satellite imagery, for a crime scene, failure, or disaster.
  • Technical and geological appraisal to assist with civil and mining engineering failures and disasters.
  • Training and awareness for geologists, police officers and crime scene managers.

Conventionally police criminal, police and most legal investigations do not involve engineering geologists. In conjunction with UK Police constabularies LJD has been providing geological expertise and capabilities to assist with criminal investigations and have had undertaken pioneering work in this relatively new, and rapidly emerging discipline. These include the search of land for missing persons, interpretation of crime scene photographs and documents, provision of advice on ground search strategies and methodologies, lands tribunals and expert witness. LJD has been applying geological capabilities and expertise, for 11 years, to search for buried murder victim(s).

LJD has registered with the National Crime and Operations Faculty (NCOF), Special Advisors List.  LJD has passed the Greater Manchester Police, Non Police Personnel Vetting process and hold National Security clearance at SC level (2005).

LJD collaborates with a number of UK Police Constabularies; the National Crime & Operations Faculty (NCOF), the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP), the Home Office, Greater Manchester Police Major Force Incident Team, Forensic Support Archaeology Group (FSAG) the Centre for Policing Excellence (CENTREX, the National Police Training College), The Royal Engineers (Ministry of Defence), Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC), Queens University Belfast, British Geological Survey, University of Birmingham and Royal Air Force (RAF). A presentation has been given by LJD on forensic geology at the Westminster Palace, Ho use of Commons. In 2004, the Home Secretary and Minister of State endorsed and supported forensic geology investigations undertaken by LJD.