Recently published papers and discussions with practitioners indicate differences between the United Kingdom and the United States in analytical methods and approaches to forensic soil/geology cases. These differences include more emphases on environmental forensics, geophysical methods to detect buried bodies and objects, the use of instrumental methods such as scanning electron microscopy - x-ray microanalysis, and stable isotope applications, and statistics in forensic geoscience research and casework in the United Kingdom than in the United States. Casework in the United States primarily utilizes traditional particle characterization. Glass identification is generally similar in both countries.
Many factors contribute to these differences. However, privatization of all forensic laboratories in the UK including former governmental laboratories appears to be dominant. This has resulted in an explosion of both small and large private and University related laboratories. These laboratories, which are highly competitive among themselves, have access to instrumentation not available in most governmental laboratories. Crime rate, population and geographical size also contribute.
Case studies illustrate the different approaches and emphases observed across the Atlantic.