Identifying the spatial footprint of pollen distributions using the Geoforensic Interdiction (GOFIND) model

Daoqin Tong, Tony H. Grubesic, Wangshu Mu, Jennifer A. Miller, Edward Helderop, Shalene Jha, Berry J. Brosi, Elisa J. Bienenstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Geoforensics leverages various spatial analytical, biological, ecological, and geological techniques to improve criminal investigations, including efforts to thwart terrorism, evaluate humanitarian crises or identify the origin of fraudulent goods. In addition to investigating what took place, geoforensic efforts often focus on determining where and when the event occurred. Forensic palynology is a promising subfield of geoforensics that uses pollen to link persons or objects to particular places and times. This promise is driven by pollen's strong utility as a biomarker. It is ubiquitous, durable and demonstrates a relatively predictable distribution in time and space. As a result, pollen often provides important clues for determining the provenance of hard-to-trace items, such as computers, fraudulent goods, digging tools, clothing, and undetonated explosives during geoforensic investigations. One major limitation that has reduced the implementation of forensic palynology is the lack of computational tools that relate pollen species to geographic locations. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a robust geocomputational framework that uses pollen sample composition to identify the relative likelihood of potential origin locations for improving geoforensic efforts. Using USDA CropScape data for the state of Texas, our results suggest that this framework allowed for multiple potential origin sites to be identified simultaneously, with solution properties that were better than a random process and offer a possible alternative to the single site joint probability approaches commonly used in the field of forensic palynology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101615
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Volume87
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Geocomputation
  • Geoforensics
  • Location Modeling
  • Pollen
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Texas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Urban Studies

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