Junior Research Group: Palaeohydrology

Group Leader

Dr. Dirk Sachse

+49-331 9775841
+49 331 977 5700
Arbeitsgruppenbild Nachwuchsgruppe Paläohydrologie
From left: Iris, Michael, Sina, Alex, Steffi, Bernhard, Bernd, Dirk, Yannick

  • Research Focus
  • Members
  • Projects
  • Facilities


Between 2009 and 2014 Dirk Sachse lead the  Emmy-Noether Research Group 'Paleohydrology' - funded by the DFG - at the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Potsdam . The group is now being transitioned to the new Organic Surface Geochemistry Lab at GFZ Section 5.1, lead by Dirk Sachse. See details there.

Below find an archive of the group activities between 2009 and 2014 at UP:

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  • 8/2014: We just returned from our final 2-day group retreat in Falkensee
  • 6/2014: several group members presented work at the Goldschmidt 2014 confernece in Sacramanto 


  • 12/2013: Several presentations by Sachse Lab members were happening at AGU Fall Meeting 2013 in San Francisco:
    • Hoffmann et al.: PP34B-03. Spatial hydrologic heterogeneity within a fluvial catchment reflected in surface water and leaf wax n-alkane δD
    • Rach et al.: PP43B-2076. A quantitative reconstruction of changes in relative humidity during the Younger Dryas in Western Europe
    • Rohrmann et al.: PP43B-2093. Reconstructing the Mio-Pliocene South American Monsoon and Orographic Barrier Evolution (Angastaco Basin, NW Argentina)
  • 11/2013: Watch a movie made by the HFF Potsdam on our fieldwork and the INTIMATE summer school at Lake Hämelsee in July 2013, where we cored down to the Late Glacial!
  • 09/2013: Dirk, Lidia and Bernd presented their work at the IMOG conference in Tenerife
  • 09/2013: Bernds first paper on the leaf wax distribution of Acacia and Eucalyptus leaves along a hydrological gradient is published in OG!
  • 06/2013: Our new Delta V Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer with a GC and EA coupling is now in operation!
  • 04/2013: Dirk will present our work on quantitative paleohydrological reconstruction at the INTIMATE spring meeting April 27-May 1 in Scotland


  • 12/2012: Our group will be present at AGU Fall Meeting 2012 (Dec 3-7) in San Francisco this year with 4 oral first author presentations [download internary and abstracts as pdf]:
    • Garcin et al.: [B12A-02] Estimating C3 vs. C4 vegetation cover from sedimentary records – a surface sediment test from Cameroon, Western Central Africa 
    • Sachse et al: [B32A-04] Spatial patterns of D/H ratios in meteoric water, leaf waxes from plants, POM and sediments within a large fluvial Himalayan catchment
    • Rach et al.: [PP42A-07] A 200-year delay in the response of the hydrological cycle in Western Europe to Northern hemispheric cooling during the Younger Dryas
    • Sarkar et al.: [PP51C-07] Biomarker evidence for increasing aridity in south-central India over the Holocene
  • 10/2012: PhD student Marga Jambina from the University of Zaragoza, Spain, will visit our lab from Oct 9 - Dec 13 to work on a Holocene sediment core. This work is funded through an INTIMATE-COST action short-term scientific mission (STSM).
  • 4/2012: PhD student Oliver Rach presented his research at the 2012 EGU general assembly in Vienna. Oliver was awarded a travel stipend by the EGU. Congratulations!
  • 1/2012: Lidia Romero started her new Postdoc project in our group within the REKLIM initiative in cooperation with Achim Brauer at GFZ Potsdam


    • Oliver Rach et al. - A High-Resolution Paleohydrological Record of the Younger Dryas Episode from Western Europe – Using Lipid Biomarker D/H Ratios - abstract (oral)
    • Lidia Romero Viana et al. - Hydrogen Isotopic Signatures of Algal Biomarkers as a Proxy of Hydroclimatic Variability in Lake Isabel, Mexico - abstract (oral)
  • 7/2011: Bernd Hoffmann has joined our group as a PhD student, working with the graduate school 1364
  • 5/2011Marlene has received a travel scholarship of the EAOG (European Association of Organic Geochemists) to work for three months in the aDNA lab at Adelaide - Congratulations!
  • 4/2011: Members of our group have presented work at the EGU Meeting April 4-8 2011 in Vienna:

Yannick Garcin et al. - Hydrogen isotope ratios of lacustrine sedimentary n-alkanes as proxies of tropical African hydrology: new insights from a calibration transect across Cameroon - abstract

Dirk Sachse et al. - INVITED ‘Biological noise' and (paleo)hydrological information in leaf wax lipid D/H ratios - insights from transect studies and greenhouse experiments abstract


  • 11/2010:Members of our group have presented their work at the AGU Fall Meeting in Dec 13-18 2010 in San Francisco:

Yannick Garcin et al. - Reconstructing tropical African hydrology using hydrogen isotope ratios of lacustrine sedimentary biomarkers: a calibration transect across Cameroon [Postersession PP21C-1706, Tuesday Dec 14, 8-12.20, Moscone South] - abstract

Lidia Romero-Viana et al. - Changes in the planktonic community of tropical hypersaline Isabela crater-lake as response to climatic variability traced by lipid biomarkers and their stable isotopic composition [Postersession PP21C-1709, Tuesday Dec 14, 8-12.20, Moscone South] -abstract

Dirk Sachse et al. - INVITED Leaf wax lipid D/H ratios of a single species along an environmental gradient on the Big Island of Hawai’i – lessons for the paleorecord [Oral Session PP24B-02, Tuesday Dec 14, 4.15-4:30pm, MW-2005 (Moscone West)] - abstract

  • 6/2010: Olli and Marlene have started their PhD projects
  • 10/2009: Our work has been featured in an article in a local newspaper, The Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung based in Potsdam, read the article here (in german only).



Fieldwork sampling a lake in Cameroon in 2009










Last name First name Title Phone E-mail
Garcin Yannick Dr. +49 331 977 5837 garcin@geo.uni-potsdam.de
Hoffmann Bernd Dipl.-Geol. +49 331 977 5788 hoffmann@geo.uni-potsdam.de
Sachse Dirk Dr. +49-331 9775841 dsachse@geo.uni-potsdam.de
van der Veen Iris M.Sc. +49 331 977 5788 veen@geo.uni-potsdam.de

from left to right: Iris van der Veen (PhD student), Michael Pöhle (student helper), Sina Grewe (visiting PhD student), Alex Rohrmann (PhD student), Steffi Tofelde (MSc student), Bernhard Aichner (Postodc), Bernd Hoffmann (PhD student), Dirk Sachse (PI), Yannick Garcin (Postdoc). Not in picture: Saswati Sarkar (PhD student), Oliver Rach (PhD student)

Current Projects

For a list of ongoing projects refer to the GFZ website of the Organic Surface Geochemistry Lab at Section 5.1


Our Lab


Our laboratory contains all the required equipment for the extraction, separation and identification of biomarker compounds in plants, soils and sediments. Our Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer allows the determination of the stable carbon and hydrogen isotope ratios of these individual biomarker compounds.



We typically extract the biomarker compounds of interest (lipids) in our lab using accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) and purify them using wet chemical methods (column chormatography, SPE).

Individual lipid fractions are then being analyzed for lipid identification and quantification on an Agilent GC-MSD/FID system.



Dionex (now ThermoFisher) ASE 350

Agilent GC-MS/FID



ThermoFisher Delta V Plus IRMS connected to a Trace 1310 GC for carbon and hydrogen compound-specific isotope analysis of biomarker compounds. In addition, the FlashEA setup can be used for solid sample bulk isotope analysis (C,N,O,H,S) as well as for water isotope analysis (H, O).