< Back to Calendar


May 30th, 2019 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM


Speaker:  Dr. Richard (Paul) Philp


The Evolution of Forensic Geochemistry and Applications to Oil Spills, Arson Cases, Groundwater Contamination, Crime Scenes and Related Cases”


Thursday, May 30, 2019


OCGS Devon Geoscience Center

10 NW 6th Street



5:00pm Networking & Cocktails

6:00pm Dinner

6:30pm Presentation

Member Cost:  $30 - Non-member Cost $35

Registrations must be made by

 Tuesday May 28, 2019.


Crime scene forensics can be traced back to many of the methods mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes novels written by Sir Arthur Connan Doyle between 1887 and 1893. Holmes delighted in telling Watson where he had been in London by examining slashes of soil on his trousers and relating the geological characteristics of the soil to known characteristics of soils in different parts of London.  Many consider this the birth of forensic geology, at least the fictional birth! But in 1893 Hans Gross an Austrian professor of Criminology published the “Handbook for Examining Magistrates” which really lead to the birth of using science in criminal investigations. Since then forensic geology and geochemistry have played significant roles in solving many major criminal and environmental cases, some of which will be discussed in this talk.

            Crime scene investigations, including environmental crime scenes, have come a long way since those fact and fictional investigations over 100 years ago.  Obviously the analytical techniques available today are far more sophisticated and sensitive than anything that was available in the 1890s. The purpose of this talk is to illustrate that there are many applications of both geology and geochemistry to a wide variety of investigations. These naturally include oil and gas related cases, but also a wide variety of other applications in the areas of groundwater contamination, contamination of indoor air, arson investigations, food and beverage adulteration, gasoline adulteration and murder investigations and many others. In the presentation I will present several examples of cases that have been and/or solved using both geological and geochemical techniques. So remember in the future when the next down turn occurs in the oil and gas industry occurs that you could become the next Sherlock Holmes!!!!


R. Paul Philp received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Sydney (Australia) in 1972 and a D.Sc. degree from the same University in 1998. He spent one and a half years as a post-doctoral fellow with Professor G. Eglinton at the University of Bristol (England) undertaking research in various aspects of organic geochemistry and the application of analytical techniques such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to this area of research. Following this he spent four years at the University of California, Berkeley, as a research associate, directing the organic geochemistry research group of Professor Melvin Calvin. He returned to Sydney in 1977 to join the CSIRO, Fuel Geoscience Unit, now part of the Division of Fossil Fuels, where he was a principal research scientist studying various aspects of petroleum geochemistry. In June 1984, he joined the faculty at the University of Oklahoma. Recently a large amount of his research has been concerned with environmental studies and particularly investigating the use of stable carbon isotopes as a means of monitoring and tracking pollutants in the environment. He became an Emeritus Professor at the University in January 2015 but continues to have an active research program in petroleum and environmental geochemistry in the School of Geology and Geophysics

Registrations must be made by

 Tuesday May 28, 2019.