Professor John Grattan


Editor: Journal of Archaeological Science

The Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences
The University of Wales, Aberystwyth
SY23 3DB
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Research Expertise


John Grattan's research interests focus on the health, environmental, cultural, and archaeological impacts of volcanic activity. He has investigated the environmental impacts of the Laki fissure eruption in great detail and reconstructed the impacts of this event across Europe through a study of contemporary literature. Key findings are the great distances over which volcanic gases can travel and still be in sufficient concentration to impact on human health and the wider environment.


He also researches the response of ancient cultures to significant volcanic forcing. Perhaps the key finding here is the general robustness of human cultures exposed to high magnitude volcanic events.


Relevant Publications

Grattan, J.P. & Torrence, R. (eds). (2007) Under the Shadow: the cultural impacts of volcanic eruptions. San Diego, Left Coast Press.

Grattan, J.P., & Torrence, R. (2007) “Beyond doom and Gloom: The long term consequences of volcanic disasters”. In Grattan, J.P. & Torrence, R. (eds) Under the Shadow: the cultural and environmental impacts of volcanic eruptions. San Diego, Left Coast Press, 1-18.

Grattan, J.P., Michnowicz, S., & Rabartin, R. (2007) “The Long Shadow: understanding the influence of the Laki Fissure eruption on human mortality in Europe”. InGrattan, J.P. & Torrence, R. (eds). (2007) Under the Shadow: the cultural and environmental impacts of volcanic eruptions. San Diego, Left Coast Press, 153-174.

Grattan, J.P. (2006) ‘Volcanic eruptions and Archaeology: cultural catastrophe or stimulus?’ Quaternary International, 151, 10-18.

Grattan, J., Rabartin, R., Self, S., & Thordarson, T. (2005) ‘Volcanic air pollution and mortality in France 1783-1784’, Comtes Rendus Geoscience, 337, 641-651. Also see comment: Courtillot, V. (2005) ‘New evidence for massive pollution and mortality in Europe in 1783-1784 may have bearing on global change and mass extinctions’, C. R. Geoscience, 337, 635-637.

Grattan, J.P., Durand, M., Gilbertson, D.D., Pyatt, F.B. & Taylor, S. (2003) “Long Range Transport of Volcanic Gases, Human Health and Mortality: A Case Study from Eighteenth Century Europe”’, In Catherine, H., Skinner, W., and Berger, A. (Eds). Geology and Health: Closing the Gap. Oxford University Press, 19-31

Grattan, J.P., Durand, M. & Taylor, S. (2003) “Illness and elevated human mortality coincident with volcanic eruptions”, In Oppenheimer, C., Pyle, D.M., and Barclay, J. (eds) Volcanic Degassing, Geological Society, London, Special Publication 213, 401-414.

Durand, M. & Grattan, J.P. (2003) ‘Modelling Stromboli's role in Mediterranean air pollution’, Geoscientist, 13, 4-10.

Torrence, R. & Grattan, J.P. (2002) Natural Disasters and Cultural Change. London Routledge. 344pp

Grattan, J.P., Schuttenhelm, R. & Brayshay, M. (2002) “"The end is nigh?" Severe social and environmental responses to volcanic pollution of the lower atmosphere: an alternative forcing mechanism for archaeologists and historians”, In Torrence, R. & Grattan, J.P. (eds). Natural Disasters and cultural change. London, Routledge, pp.87-106.

Grattan, J.P. & Durand, M. (2002) “Distant volcanic eruptions, human health and mortality” In: Raynal, J-P., Albore-Livadie, C. & Piperno., M. (eds) Humans and Volcanoes. Archéo-Logis/CDERAD, GOUDET, pp15-22.

Durand, M. & Grattan, J.P. (2001) ‘Volcanoes Air Pollution and Health’, The Lancet, 357, 164.

Grattan, J.P. & Sadler, J. (2001) “An exploration of the contribution of the Laki Fissure gases to the high summer air temperatures in Western Europe in 1783”, InJuvigné, E. & Raynal, J.P. (eds). Tephras: chronology and archaeology, 137-144.

Grattan, J.P. et al., (2001) “Human illness and vegetation damage induced by the volcanogenic dry fog in 1783: further studies of the distal environmental impacts of the Laki fissure eruption”, In Juvigné, E. & Raynal, J.P. (eds). Tephras: chronology and archaeology, 145-152.

Grattan, J.P., & Gilbertson, D.D. (2000) “Prehistoric "Settlement Crisis", Environmental Changes in the British Isles and Volcanic Eruptions in Iceland: An Exploration of Plausible Linkages”, In McCoy, F., & Heiken G. (eds). Volcanic Hazards and Disasters in Human Antiquity. Geological Society of America Special Paper 345, 33-42.

Durand, M. & Grattan, J.P. (1999) ‘Extensive Respiratory Health effects of Volcanogenic dry fog in 1783 inferred from European documentary sources’,Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 21, 371-376.

Dodgshon, R.A, Gilbertson, D.D. & Grattan, J.P. (2000) ‘Endemic stress, farming communities and the influence volcanic eruptions in the Scottish Highlands’, InMcGuire, W.G., Griffiths, D.R. Hancock, P.L. & Stewart, I.S. (eds) The Archaeology of Geological Catastrophes. Geological Society, London Special Publications 171, 267-280.

Grattan, J.P. Gilbertson, D.D. & Dill, A. (2000) “"A fire spitting volcano in our dear Germany"? documentary evidence for a low intensity volcanic eruption of the Gleichberg in 1783”. In McGuire, W.G., Griffiths, D.R. Hancock, P.L. & Stewart, I.S. (eds) The Archaeology of Geological Catastrophes. Geological Society, London Special Publications 171, 307-315.

Grattan, J.P. & Pyatt, F.B. (1999) ‘Volcanic eruptions, dust veils, dry fogs and the European Palaeoenvironmental record: localised phenomena or hemispheric impacts?’, Global and Planetary Change, 21, 173-179.

Sadler, J. & Grattan, J.P. (1999) ‘Volcanoes as agents of past environmental change’, Global and Planetary Change, 21, 181-196.

Grattan, J. & Sadler. J. (1999) ‘Regional warming of the lower atmosphere in the wake of volcanic eruptions : the role of the Laki fissure eruption in the hot summer of 1783’, Geological Society Special Publication, 161, 161-172.

Brayshay, M. & Grattan. J. (1999) “Environmental and social responses in Europe to the 1783 eruption of the Laki fissure volcano in Iceland: a consideration of contemporary documentary evidence”, In Firth, C.R. & McGuire, W.J. (Eds) Volcanoes in the Quaternary. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 161, 173-188.

Grattan J.P., Gilbertson, D.D. & Charman, D.J. (1999) “Modelling the impact of Icelandic volcanic eruptions upon the prehistoric societies and environment of northern and western Britain”, In Firth, C.R. & McGuire, W.J. (Eds) Volcanoes in the Quaternary. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 161, 109-124.

Charman, D.J. & Grattan, J.P. (1999) “An Assessment of discriminant function analysis in the identification and correlation of distal Icelandic tephras in the British Isles”, In Firth, C.R. & McGuire, W.J. (Eds) Volcanoes in the Quaternary. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 161, 147-160.

Grattan. J. (1998) “The response of marginal societies and ecosystems in Britain to Icelandic Volcanic eruptions” In Mills, C.M. & Coles, G. (eds) Life on the Edge: Human Settlement and Marginality. Oxford. Oxbow Books, 21 - 30.

Grattan, J. (1998) 'The distal impact of Icelandic volcanic gases and aerosols in Europe: a review of the 1783 Laki Fissure eruption and environmental vulnerability in the late 20th century'In Maund, J.G. & Eddleston, M. (eds) Geohazards in engineering Geology. Geological Society, London, Engineering Geology Special Publications 15, 97 - 103.

Grattan, J.P. (1998) “The environmental toxicology of volcanic gases in the European environment”, In Rose, J. (ed) Environmental Toxicology. Amsterdam, Gordon Breach, 109-120.

Grattan, J. Brayshay, M. & Sadler, J. (1998) ‘Modelling the distal impacts of past volcanic gas emissions: evidence of Europe-wide environmental impacts from gases emitted during the eruption of Italian and Icelandic volcanoes in 1783’, Quaternaire, 9(1), 25-35.

Grattan, J.P., Charman, D. & Gilbertson, D.D. (1996) “The environmental impact of Icelandic volcanic eruptions: a Hebridean perspective”, In Gilbertson, D.D., Kent, M. & Grattan, J.P. (eds) The Environment of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland: the last 14000 years. Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 51 - 58

Charman, D.J., Grattan, J.P., West, S & Kelly, A. (1995) ‘Environmental response to tephra deposition in the Strath of Kildonan, northern Scotland’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 22(6), 799-809.

Grattan, J.P. & Brayshay, M.B. (1995) ‘An Amazing and Portentous summer: Environmental and social responses in Britain to the 1783 eruption of an Iceland Volcano’, The Geographical Journal, 161(2), 125-134.

Grattan. J.P. (1994) ‘Land abandonment and Icelandic volcanic eruptions in the late 2nd Millennium BC’, Münchener Geographische Abhandlungen, B12, 111-132

Grattan, J.P. & Gilbertson, D.D. (1994) ‘Acid-loading from Icelandic tephra falling on acidified ecosystems as a key to understanding archaeological and environmental stress in northern and western Britain’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 21(6), 851-859.

Grattan, J.P. & Charman, D.J. (1994) ‘Non-climatic factors and the environmental impact of volcanic volatiles: implications of the Laki Fissure eruption of AD 1783’, The Holocene, 4(1), 101-106.

Grattan, J.P. & Pyatt, F.B. (1994) ‘Acid damage in Europe caused by the Laki Fissure eruption - an historical review’, Science of the Total Environment, 151, 241-247.

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Download our pamphlets on preparing for ashfall and on the health hazards of ash. They are designed for mass distribution at the onset of new eruptions. They are now avaiable in English, Japanese, French Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Indonesian and Icelandic with Italian versions being available shortly. Please see our Pamphlets page for further infomation.





IVHHN has an article under the Guidelines tab which used to be called 'Recommended Face Masks'. This has now been updated to 'Information on face masks' and is an interim page whilst the Health Interventions in Volcanic Eruptions project investigates which types of respiratory protection are effective in protecting the general population from volcanic ash inhalation. Please note that the translations in Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese have not yet been updated.



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