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PhD projects

The Time of the Crime: Temporal Soil Forensic Science


Research activity per year

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Personal profile



Work includes using Geology in forensic sciences, both in the search for hidden objects (bodies, buried materials) and in trace evidence analysis. Funding from: ERC; EPSRC; @CreativeIreland funding; consultancy; KTP.

I currently supervise two PhD students. 1.  Ben Rocke (crime scene mapping and sampling); 2. Amy Lally (Deglaciation in Iceland).


Research Statement


  • Geoforensics Impact Statements in UK Government Research Excellence Framework (2014 and 2021).
  • Total (including collaborative) grant earnings exceed £9 million over 30 years.
  • Published over 165 peer-reviewed papers and one book.
  • Completed over 130 major (over £1000) consultancy projects, mainly on Geoforensics.
  • Collaborative projects in 10 countries worldwide, Training Officer for the IUGS-funded Initiative on Forensic Geology
  • Health & Safety Coordinator.
  • Teaching includes geology, geomorphology, GIS, climate change, field classes throughout the UK, Ireland, Mediterranean, Geoforensics, Masters level geophysics.


1. @CreativeIreland outreach funding: search and archaeological excavation/recovery of a crashed and burieed WW2 P38 Lightning, Monaghan.

2. Remote sensing and geophysics for archaeology (€2.6 million European Research Council FRAGSUS grant: PI Professor Malone).

3. SALINAS - saline aquifer intrusion monitoring and modelling, PI Professor Gerry Hamill.

4.. TellusBorder peat depth monitoring for carbon stocks (£4.5 million INTERREG [EU] with £72,000 to Ruffell & colleagues).

5. TellusBorder remote sensing of illegally buried waste (£72,000 to Ruffell & colleagues).

6.  Volcanology/glaciology (£47,000 EPSRC Ph.D studentship: CI Ruffell)


- Using non-destructive geological techniques in landscape and material analysis for forensic, archaeological, geological and geomorphological research.

- Forensic research. Multiproxy methods (remote sensing, geophysics, landscape interpretation) for the search of buried and sunk items. Trace evidence analysis methods for criminal investigations.

- Consultancy for engineering companies, the police and environment agencies and the Independent Commission for the Recovery of Victims Remains.


GGY1007 Earth Fire and Ice

GGY2002 Landscapes & Geographic Information Systems

GGY3049 Geoforensics


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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