Forensic geology, a way for justice

A seminar on forensic geology was held Nov. 12.

Associate professor Dr. Ilya Buynevich explained how a criminal can be caught red-handed, just by analyzing sedimentary rocks.

The Temple University Forensics Organization held an hour-long seminar Nov. 12 with the associate professor of earth and environmental science, who discussed the field of forensic geology.

Forensic geology combines geological science with forensic investigations. The presentation featured topics including archaeology, sedimentary rock types in different geographic locations and case studies.

Buynevich explained how forensic geology is a growing field of study and showed how the field goes beyond science in helping with other careers involving  law.

An example of how an investigator would use geology to find out if a person was guilty of a murder involved the examining of different types of sedimentary rock. Buynevich projected a map of Pennsylvania where each section of the state had a different color representing the various types of sedimentary rock.

The following slide showed a picture of the sole of a shoe labeled with different layers. The first and second layers, which he explained come into contact with the ground first, are tested when a suspect is in question.

“If a suspect does not wash their shoes for one or two weeks, the evidence would still be present in these layers,“ Bunevich said. “A suspect would have a lot of explaining to do if the residue on their shoe matched the murder scene.”

To further emphasize his point, Buynevich passed around a container filled with sand from Florida, which he said is heavier than the sand found locally.

He ended his presentation with hopes he convinced students about how important and relatable forensic geology is.

A majority of the students who attended the seminar were studying all kinds of sciences like chemistry, physics and natural science. Though Temple does not offer classes specific to forensic geology, the Forensics Organization aims to expose students to the field.

“We have meetings where we talk about forensics, and projects where members can analyze their hair samples and case studies,” said Desiree Lara, junior public health major and president of the Forensics Organization.

The Forensic Geology organization has been operational for a year, with 35 students currently part of the group. The group hopes to gain 100 more members.

Chris Zhou, co-founder and vice president of the group, said they also go on field trips to NMS Labs in Willow Grove, which the group is affiliated with, so students can gain hands-on experience with forensic geology.

“We had a vision to help introduce something that relates to all sciences,” said Zhou, a senior natural science major. “A forensic scientist is one of the coolest careers out there.”

Tatyana Turner can be reached at

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