Downward migrating microplastics in lake sediments are a tricky indicator for the onset of the Anthropocene

Inta Dimante-Deimantovica*, Saija Saarni*, Marta Barone, Natalja Buhhalko, Normunds Stivrins, Natalija Suhareva, Wojciech Tylmann, Alvise Vianello, Jes Vollertsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Plastics are a recent particulate material in Earth's history. Because of plastics persistence and wide-range presence, it has a great potential of being a global age marker and correlation tool between sedimentary profiles. In this research, we query whether microplastics can be considered among the array of proxies to delimit the Anthropocene Epoch (starting from the year 1950 and above). We present a study of microplastics deposition history inferred from sediment profiles of lakes in northeastern Europe. The sediments were dated with independent proxies from the present back to the first half of the 18th century. Regardless of the sediment layer age, microplastic particles were found throughout the cores in all sites. Depending on particles' aspect ratio, less elongated particles were found deeper, while more elongated particles and fibers have reduced mobility. We conclude that interpretation of microplastics distribution in the studied sediment profiles is ambiguous and does not strictly indicate the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadi8136
JournalScience Advances
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2024

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