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Bubble Compression November 9, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Technical Diving.
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I saw an interesting slide at the UHMS GLC meeting in October. It compared dive profiles that were virtually identical except for a very deep bounce at the beginning of what was otherwise a “square” profile. The presenter stated that there were less observed bubbles after the dive that began with the bounce than the one that didn’t.

That’s quite astounding. One would think that starting a dive with a bounce would increase the number of bubbles, not decrease it. This result seemed to support some of the claims made by bubble model proponents that neo-Haldanean compression models miss opportunities to exit from deep dives earlier. The effect is explained by the theory of micronuclei, which can be made up of very small bubbles that already exist in the bloodstream, which grow larger in the presence of supersaturated inert gas (i.e. Nitrogen or Helium) and cause problems. The deep bounce crushes these micronuclei to a degree where they do not easily accrete dissolved gases and grow to a size that would cause the diver problems.

Sounds intriguing, but I’m still not convinced that this is safe enough for my personal use. I worry that certain environmental conditions or dive profiles would result in a reversal of the effect and the onset of serious DCS. I’m probably full of “it” on this topic but if one model predicts I’m going to be fine and the other predicts I’m going to be writhing in agony, I’m going to err on the side of staying down a little longer.



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