Alastair Ruffell


  • Room 02.027 - Geography Building

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Source-to-sink dynamics and palaeo-environment reconstruction from a dynamically evolving glacial foreland


Research output per year

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile



I work mainly in using Earth science techniques in forensics, both in the search for hidden objects (bodies, buried materials) and in trace evidence analysis.  This work has been applied to @CreativeIreland funding; consultancy projects and two Knowledge Transfer Partnership grants, one on imaging vulnerable historic buildings and structures (essentially, a forensic search) and the other on sub-aqueous mapping of bridges, piers etc, essentially water-based searches. I am part of the SALINAS team, investigating saline aquifeer intrusion (lead: Gerry Hamill).

I bring 5-10 consultancy projects to Queens each year, from forensic analysis, through environmental crime to assessment of ground conditions. Three recent grant awards underpin much of my research - two associated with the TellusBorder SEUPB-funded project and FRAGSUS, an EU-funded project on fragile island communities with Caroline Malone here at Queen's (and colleagues). I currently supervise three PhD students - Neil Powell (scent detection in dogs, especially for early epilepsy warning); Niamh McCullough (homicides in Ireland) and Filippo Bertozzo (dinosaur palaeopathology).


Research Statement


  • Five current research council grants, totalling over £500,000.
  • Top score (4*) for my Geoforensics Impact Statement in UK Government Research Excellence Framework (2014).
  • Total (including collaborative) grant earnings exceed £9 million over 30 years.
  • Published over 125 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 (£15,000 per year)
  • Health & Safety Coordinator; formerly Director of Education, Postgraduate Coordinator, completed Queen’s Leadership course.
  • 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.


GAP1007 Dynamic Earth

GAP2002 Landscapes & Geographic Information Systems

GAP 3049 Geoforensics



Dive into the research topics where Alastair Ruffell is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 2 Similar Profiles


Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.