Professor John Gunn

Professor John Gunn

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Honorary Professor

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

John Gunn is a multi-disciplinary scientist working on a single rock – limestone – and on the karst environments that form on limestone. He is also an active speleologist and is involved in cave exploration and underground research. His research interests include: the hydrogeology of karst (particularly percolation waters, water tracing techniques and geological influences on the development of underground drainage); the evolution of karst landform assemblages; the ecology of karst waters; cave climates and particularly the dynamics of radon and carbon dioxide in caves; the conservation and management of limestone terrains and their resources, particularly water resources and quarrying.


BSc, Aberystwyth University, 1974; PhD, Auckland University, 1978; Postdoctoral Fellow, Trinity College, Dublin, 1979-82; Lecturer / Reader / Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University, 1982-92; Professor, Huddersfield University, 1993-2007.

Member, World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the WCPA Cave & Karst Protection Task Force. 2001-12

Chairman, Karst Commission of the International Geographical Union 1996-2004.

Editor of the Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science (2003), which was awarded a prize in the category Most Significant Publication on a Cave or Karst topic at the 2005 International Congress of Speleology.

Awarded Honorary Life Membership of the National Speleological Society, 2006

Distinguished Lecturer, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, March 2007


Research interests

  • the hydrogeology of karst (particularly percolation waters and water tracing techniques)
  • geological influences on the development of underground drainage
  • quarrying - the geomorphological evolution of quarried landscapes, quarry restoration and quarry hydrogeology
  • cave climates and particularly the dynamics of radon and carbon dioxide in caves
  • the ecology of karst waters
  • the conservation and management of limestone terrains and their resources, particularly water resources.

Current / recent research 

  • Turlough hydrogeology in Northern Ireland (funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency)
  • Quarry hydrogeology in the Peak District and south Wales (funded by industry and by the Countryside Council for Wales)
  • Human influences on the hydrogeology of the River Lathkill, Derbyshire (Funded by Natural England)
  • Karst Groundwater Source Protection Zones in Derbyshire (Funded by the Environment Agency)
  • Speleogenesis in Derbyshire and Ethiopia

Other activities

Professor Gunn is a keen speleologist and has explored caves in over fifty countries. He is President of the British Cave Research Association and Joint Editor of their Transactions, "Cave and Karst Science".


Key Publications since 2001

Gunn J. 2010. Is the term ‘Karst Aquifer’ misleading? In : Andreo B, Carrasco F, Duran JJ & LaMoreaux JW (Eds) Advances in research in karst media, Springer, 57-62.

Worthington SRH & Gunn J. 2009. Hydrogeology of carbonate aquifers: a short history. Ground Water, 47, 462-467.

Banks VJ, Gunn J & Lowe DJ. 2009. Stratigraphical influences on the limestone hydrogeology of the Wye catchment, Derbyshire. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 42, 211–225.

Stubbington R, Greenwood AM, Armitage PD, Gunn J, Robertson AL & Wood PJ. 2009. The response of perennial and temporary headwater stream invertebrate communities to hydrological extremes. Hydrobiologia, 630, 299-312.

Asrat A, Baker A, Leng MJ, Gunn J & Umer M. 2008. Environmental monitoring in the Mechara caves, southeastern Ethiopia: Implications for speleothem palaeoclimate studies. International Journal of Speleology, 37, 207-220.

Wood PJ, Gunn J & Rundle SD. 2008. Response of benthic cave invertebrates to organic pollution events Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 18, 909-922

Gunn J. 2007. Groundwater source protection zones in karst: the problem of catchment definition. In : Parise, M & Gunn, J (Eds.), 2007. Natural and anthropogenic hazards in karst areas: recognition, analysis and mitigation. Geological Society of London Special Publication 279, 97-109.

Parise M & Gunn J (Eds). 2007. Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards in Karst Areas. Geological Society Special Publication 279, 202pp.

Gunn J, Bottrell SH, Lowe DJ & Worthington SRH 2006. Deep groundwater flow and geochemical processes in limestone aquifers: evidence from thermal waters in Derbyshire, England, UK. Hydrogeology Journal, 14 (6), 868-881.

Gunn J. (Ed). 2004. Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science. Fitzroy Dearborn, New York & London, ISBN 1-57958-399-7. 902pp.

See a full list of publications (PDF - 116KB)