The fluid dynamics of bloodstain pattern formation

To assist bloodstain pattern analysts understand and articulate the science of bloodstain pattern formation, a 40 hour course entitled ‘The Fluid Dynamics of Bloodstain Pattern Formation’ has been developed.

This course is designed to deliver advanced level training to experienced laboratory based scientists, crime scene investigators and forensic consultants.

Participants on the course will develop an understanding of the principles of fluid dynamics as they apply to bloodstain pattern formation. The emphasis of this course will be on the relationship between the dynamics of bloodstain pattern formation and the characteristics of the resultant static bloodstain pattern.  It will introduce participants to some of the basic concepts of fluid dynamics with particular reference to the behaviour of blood as a fluid. The course has a strong practical component with participants performing a number of experiments which will feature the use of a high speed digital camera. 

Training objectives

The purpose of this 40 hour course is to develop the bloodstain pattern analyst’s interpretative skills by exploring the connections between the physical mechanisms of bloodletting and the observable characteristics of the resultant static bloodstain pattern.  The properties of blood as a fluid and the physics of blood droplet behaviour will be emphasised.

 On completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  • describe and explain the critical physical properties of fluids
  • describe and demonstrate the differences between blood and other common fluids and how that relates to Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
  • explain the underlying physical mechanisms of the formation of major bloodstain types
  • relate the observed characteristics of the major bloodstain pattern types to the underlying mechanisms of their formation
  • use video bloodstain pattern analysis source material in the presentation of court evidence or in basic BPA course instruction

Course content

The course has a practical hands-on emphasis.  It includes experiments in which a high speed camera will be used to capture the formation of some key bloodstain patterns.  Participants will work in groups to complete a set of experiments, review and analyse experimental data and prepare and present presentations to the class describing their results.  Participants will be encouraged to draw connections between the dynamics of pattern formation and the features of the resultant static bloodstain pattern.

The practical component of the course will be supplemented with lectures and class discussions which will introduce the participants to principles of fluid mechanics and assist participants gain higher level interpretative pattern recognition skills.

Pre-course assignment

Some pre-course assignment work will be required. This will be distributed prior to the start of the course. It will include refresher training in some basic maths and physics.

Course assessment

The assessment for this course will be based on three components:

  1. The satisfactory completion of a practical workbook, including the compilation of photographic and video images

  2. An oral presentation.  On the final day of the course, participants will be required to give a 10 minute presentation to the rest of the class.  This presentation will be in the form of a detailed explanation of the formation of a bloodstain pattern, suitable for a lay audience such as the participants in a court trial.

  3. A 1.5 hour open book written exam covering the fundamentals of fluid dynamics as taught on the course.  This can be completed and submitted after the completion of the course week.

Course information


The course will be held at the premises of the host agency.  It will run for five consecutive days, commencing at 8:00 am on Monday and finishing 2:30 pm on Friday with a minimum of 40 hours instructional time.


  • Dr Mark Jermy, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

  • Ms Ros Rough, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), Christchurch, New Zealand

How do I register for this course?

If you or your agency would like to host this course, please contact Ms Ros Rough.