Validation of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Forensic Soils Investigation in Brazil

ABSTRACT Soil traces are useful as forensic evidence due to their potential to transfer and adhere to different types of surfaces on a range of objects or persons. Several works have been developed in forensic soils, under different analytical approaches. However, in Brazil, only the researches from the Group of the Federal University of Paraná have developed works with soils under a forensic approach. Focus has been given on the sequential chemical analyses and mineralogical techniques once they presented a large potential to discriminate soil samples, even that originated from the same bedrock. In this way, this work aimed to test a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for forensic soil sampling and an analytical protocol in Brazil between the academy and the scientific police through a blind simulated crime scene scenario. Samples were collected at four sites located in the Curitiba Metropolitan Region. All soils were classified as Inceptisol ( Cambissolo ), and the parent material in Curitiba is claystone and in Colombo is limestone. Around 3 g of sample composed by silt + clay fraction were isolated and analyzed by sequential chemical procedure: i) extraction of poorly ordered iron and aluminum oxides with ammonium oxalate (AO); ii) extraction of crystalline iron oxides with sodium dithionite-citrate-bicarbonate (DCB); and iii) extraction of poorly ordered aluminosilicates and gibbsite with NaOH 0.5 mol L-1. All data were transformed by square root and formed a data matrix subsequently analyzed in a principal component analysis (PCA). Most of the samples were properly grouped according to their provenance at all four sites tested, showing the potential of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in a real crime scene. The sampling procedures presented in the SOP were detailed enough to allow the appropriate police work in forensic cases in any part of Brazil. As future considerations, modifications to the sample treatment and analytical protocol could be made depending on the context of the forensic work. Intense anthropogenic activities, such as domestic waste disposal in urban areas, would potentially reduce the discrimination power of such a proposed chemical analytical protocol.