forensic geophysics, forensic archaeology, metal detector, magnetic locator, buried weapons
Incorporating geophysical technologies into forensic investigations has become a growing practice. Oftentimes, forensic professionals rely on basic metal detectors to assist their efforts during buried weapons searches, perhaps being used by someone with negligible or limited training, in turn slowing down investigation time and destroying the scene. This has created a need for research in the area of weapons searches, specifically to formulate guidelines for advanced geophysical methods that may be appropriate for locating weapons that have been discarded or buried by criminals attempting to conceal their involvement in a crime. This research project was the first to demonstrate the utility of geophysical technologies at a crime scene or a suspected weapon burial site by detecting and identifying specific types of buried metal targets, including an array of firearms. Controlled testing of 32 buried targets (including sixteen decommissioned street-level firearms, six pieces of assorted scrap metals, and ten blunt or bladed weapons) was conducted using a basic all-metal detector, an advanced metal detector, and a magnetic locator. Overall, a number of important conclusions were drawn from the research project. All forensic targets included in the project were detected with the basic all-metal detector, but only down to the shallower depths. The magnetic locator provided the deepest detection for the largest firearms, scrap metals, and miscellaneous weapons. However, not all forensic targets included in the project were detected due to the detection capabilities inherent to the magnetic locator (i.e. only detecting ferromagnetic items). The advanced metal detector was best suited for detecting the handguns and was able to detect most of the targets, excluding a number of items comprised of iron, down to deeper depths using the factory presets.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Rezos, Mary, "Controlled Research Utilizing Geophysical Technologies In The Search For Buried Firearms And Miscellaneous Weapons" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 4028.