A Method for Matching Fractured Surfaces using Shadow Profilometry


Characterization of fractured surfaces is of interest to forensic scientists because the measurements can be used to investigate if two fractured surfaces have originated from a single common item, thus allowing the scientists to reconstruct shattered objects and structures. Fracture surfaces of object fragments that failed in tension under load or were torn apart because of explosive forces will have essentially matching surfaces. This paper presents an inexpensive technique for constructing a digital image of a three dimensional surface via two dimensional slices of very small objects using shadow profilometry. This method preserves minor details so that measurements can be made to characterize each surface and calculate the likelihood that the two surfaces were disjointed. Samples were created by using a load frame to pull apart round, square, and rectangular rods of various materials, such as high and low carbon steel, aluminium, brass, and copper. Other samples were created by blasting. Various methods and algorithms utilizing optical microscopy, shadow profilometry, and digital image processing were developed to characterize two fracture surfaces to determine if they originated from a single common object.

Meeting Name

3rd International Conference on Tribology and Design (2010: May 11-13, Algarve, Portugal)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Second Department

Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

Forensic Investigations; Shadow Profilometry; Surface Characterization; Surface Roughness; Digital Image Processing; Explosive Force; Forensic Scientists; Fractured Surfaces; Load Frames; Object Fragments; Rectangular Rods; Shadow Profilometry; Small Objects; Image Processing; Low Carbon Steel; Optical Data Processing; Optical Microscopy; Profilometry; Surface Properties; Tensile Strength; Tribology; Two Dimensional; Surface Roughness

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2010 WIT Press, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2010