Forensic geoscience non-invasive detection and characterisation of underground clandestine complexes, bunkers, tunnels and firing ranges

Jamie K Pringle, Alastair Ruffell, Peter Styles, Matt Stringfellow, Ian G Stimpson, Steven G Banham, Kristopher D Wisniewski, Stephen Owen, Luke Hobson, James Thompson

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Recent events in conflict zones have emphasized that the successful detection and characterisation of buried clandestine complexes, bunkers and tunnels is vitally important for forensic investigators globally, to reduce or solve criminal activities, address national security threats and avoid potential terrorist attacks. However, this can often prove very difficult, particularly in urban areas, with potentially both below-ground non target items and above-ground infrastructures present, that can interfere with detecting target(s).

Here we provide selected successful case studies where forensic geoscience techniques were used to detect and characterise buried clandestine complexes, bunkers and tunnels using different geophysical techniques. Generally, desktop studies assessing pre-existing information, including local geology, soils, historical/modern remote sensing, maps and photographs inform appropriate geophysical survey technique(s) selection. Subsequent near-surface geophysical techniques are then employed to produce accurate plans of sub-surface targets, with numerical modelling and correction for the interfering effects of above ground infrastructure, enabling the calibration of geophysical datasets to provide confidence in their respective interpretations.

All forensic investigations are, of course, unique to every site, and thus require an individual approach to their respective ground conditions. Investigations should be both phased and iterative, with techniques tailored to local conditions: the selection of geophysical method(s) is crucial to improve successful detection rates of such important buried targets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112033
Number of pages13
JournalForensic Science International
Early online date27 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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