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Topography measurements and applications in ballistics and tool mark identifications



Theodore V. Vorburger, Jun-Feng Song, Nicholas D. Petraco


The application of surface topography measurement methods to the field of firearm and toolmark analysis is fairly new. The field has been boosted by the development of a number of competing optical methods which has improved the speed and accuracy of surface topography acquisitions. We describe here some of these measurement methods as well as several analytical methods for assessing similarities and differences among pairs of surfaces. We also provide a few examples of research results to identify cartridge cases or bullets originating from the same firearm or tool marks produced by the same tool. Physical standards and issues of traceability are also discussed.
Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties


ballistics, breech face, bullet, cartridge case, exclusion, firearm, identification, individual characteristics, standards, surface, tool mark, topography


Vorburger, T. , Song, J. and Petraco, N. (2015), Topography measurements and applications in ballistics and tool mark identifications, Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created December 16, 2015, Updated November 10, 2018