Chasing Ghosts: An Investigation of the Ghosting Phenomenon in Footprints

Mike Nirenberg*, Elizabeth Ansert, Jackie Campbell, Mike Curran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Ghosting is a phenomenon that has been identified in dynamic (walking) ootprints. There is sparse research on the occurrence of ghosting; however, due to the forensic value of footprints and their use in other scientific fields, the
phenomenon of ghosting warrants further study. Ghosting can be used to determine if a footprint is static (standing) or dynamic, which can help forensic investigators create a sequence of events at a crime scene. Furthermore, this can
help in footprint comparisons from this determination, as “like versus like” comparisons of dynamic or static footprints can be made. The purpose of this research was to determine the prevalence and locations of the ghosting phenomena in dynamic footprints. 136 dynamic footprints from 68 volunteers were collected using an inkless collection system.
Each footprint was visually inspected for ghosting as well as examined using software. Ghosting was present on at least one location in all footprints. The highest prevalence occurred at the tip of the great toe, followed by the second
digit and the heel. To a lesser extent, ghosting appeared at the tips of the other three digits. Ghosting often occurred at two or more areas in a given footprint.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience & Justice
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2020


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