Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Thomas Kubic

Second Reader

Michelle D. Miranda

Third Advisor

Anna Duggar


This project suggests improvements to the treatment methods utilized for the sample preparation and evaluation of minerals in soil samples encountered in forensic science casework and research. The evaluation of pre-treated and post-treated soil samples were performed using Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy with Attenuated Total Reflection (FTIR-ATR) and Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Because soil samples contain a significant amount of organic matter and water which interfere with examination of these minerals while using these instruments, pretreatment methods are necessary to isolate the mineral fraction for examination and analysis.

Soil samples were first sieved with various size stainless steel mesh sieves prior to treatment for the purposes of isolating mineral species into fractions suitable for mineralogical analysis. Particles of interest include 90-180μm and 30% hydrogen peroxide treatment and low temperature plasma ashing, both of which have been characterized as removing the organic fraction without destroying or changing the mineralogical structure in the soil sample. After treatment, samples were analyzed using FTIR-ATR and SEM-EDX to observe and assess the reduction of organic matter and to determine whether or not the mineral content of the soil samples were changed due to these pretreatments. Both the 30% hydrogen peroxide and plasma ashing pretreatment methods work well removing the organic fraction from soil samples.


Images and figures with supplemental data were too large to include and are available upon request.

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