Analyzing Trace Evidence

While watching CSI, you’ve probably heard Hodgins talk about analyzing the trace evidence. Grissom constantly pushes for its complete analysis. That’s because it can tie things like fabric from a shirt to the owner of the shirt, for example, a piece of shirt that gets torn off during a struggle.

One of the many forensic investigation methods, trace evidence analysis, refers to the scientific analysis of fibers, paint and soil. Crime scene techs take samples of traces of these items at scene and use microscopic and chemical analysis to identify their origin.

National Databases

One of the tools they use in conjunction with this analysis are massive national databases. One example of these is the FBI’s National Automotive Paint File with more than 40,000 records. Its database contains samples that date to the 1930s.

Analysts look for pattern-matches. They examine all layers of a sample. They compare the fibers visibly and through chemistry tests to differentiate man-made from natural fibers, color/hues, shape and solubility.

Gunshot Residue

While ballistics analyzes the bullets and guns themselves, trace analysis handles gunshot residue. This includes taking measurements from the suspects and the victim. It also includes the splay pattern and blood splatter analysis.

Learn and Apply Trace Analysis Methods

Learn more about trace evidence at the Las Vegas attraction CSI exhibit and interactive experience. You’ll also learn new skills in ballistics, DNA testing and fingerprinting.


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