Dissent in the Sediment? – Lake sediments as archives of short- and long-range impact of anthropogenic activities in northeastern Germany

08 March 2023, Version 3
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The suitability of lake sediment cores to reconstruct past inputs, regional pollution, and usage patterns of pesticides has been shown previously. Until now, no such data exist for lakes in eastern Germany. Therefore, ten sediment cores (length 1 m) of ten lakes in eastern Germany, the territory of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), were collected and cut into 5-10 mm layers. In each layer, concentrations of trace elements (TEs) As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, S, Zn, as well as of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) were analyzed. A miniaturized solid-liquid extraction technique in conjunction with headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used for the latter. Of OCPs, only transformation products of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) were found. Congener ratios indicate a mainly aerial input. In the lakes’ profiles, several regional features and also responses to national policies and measures are visible. Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD) concentrations reflect the history of DDT use in the GDR. TEs show a uniform progression over time. They follow a trans-regional pattern and are indicative of activity and policy making in West Germany before 1990 instead of those in the GDR. Lake sediments proved to be suitable to archive short- and long-range impacts of anthropogenic activity. Our data can be used to complement and validate other forms of environmental pollution long-term monitoring and check for the efficiency of pollution counter measures in the past.


organochlorine pesticide (OCP)
dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)
hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH)
trace elements
Mecklenburg-Brandenburg lake district
landscape development
transformation products

Supplementary materials

Electronic supplementary material (ESM1)
Additional figures and tables: A figure illustrating similarities between Lakes BL and FH, a figure illustrating the alignment of two cores from Lake AR, a figure showing re-evaluated age models from Lakes BL and TF, a table showing the composition of the internal standard mix, a table showing the list of ions and retention times used in the MS analysis, 2 tables showing the number of data points comprising the sum of TEs and DDX, respectively, a figure showing the isotope activities in the lake cores used for dating, 10 figures showing elemental profiles of each lake, 5 figures illustrating the elemental profile progressions before 1900 in five lakes


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Comment number 1, Marcel Pierre Simon: Oct 03, 2023, 13:04

The article has since been published in a peer-reviewed journal and is available open access: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-023-28210-8 The data is available here: https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.951049