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PSU Scholars Reveal Their Mission in a Newly Published Divers Thriller

The Unbound Publishing has published a documentary thriller on divers exploring underwater caves, with a reference to scientists of Perm State University. The book by Mark Cowan and Martin Robson is titled “Between the Devil and the Deep: One Man’s Battle to Beat the Bends” and holds 448 pages of a drama which happened in the South of Russia, a challenge which took years to understand and explore. The book, released on 22 July, 2021, mentions the names of scholars from Perm State University (PSU, Russia).

“Deep underwater lurks a mysterious man-made illness. It has gone by many names over the years – Satan’s disease, diver’s palsy, the chokes,” the book promo states. – the phenomenon known today as a decompression sickness, or the “bends”. Robert Kurson, a columnist for the New York Times and bestselling author of the “Shadow Divers” claims the new book to be “one of the best accounts ever written of deep-water diving and its staggering, haunting dangers”.

In the winter 2012, Robson, along with Perm scientists, took part in an expedition to the Blue Lake in Kabardino-Balkaria, to the South of Russia. The goal of the mission was to discover an underwater cave system, hitherto hidden from human eyes. The Blue Lake, called by the locals as the Jin’s Jug, is a combination of two unique objects – a karst spring and a karst mine. The origin of the reservoir is not completely clear: a river constantly flows out of the Blue Lake, yet nothing visibly flows into it. The challenge served a start for a closer investigation.

Researchers from Perm State University have been exploring lakes for a hundred years, already, since the start of the University in 1916. Perm Territory has water reservoirs of a similar type, albeit less deep. Their close study and proven practices allow PSU experts to enter international research projects and conduct an expert assessment of similar objects in Russia and worldwide, hence their appearance in a book by Mark Cowan and Martin Robson.

“Why explore the lake?” comments Professor Nikolay Maksimovich, Deputy Director for Science, Natural Science Institute, PSU, Associate Professor of the Department of Hydrology and Protection of Water Resources, Head of Laboratory of Geology of Technogenic Processes. “From a common point of view, the research is important in order to understand the origin of the lake, its evolution, and protect it. Any data on such phenomena expand the horizons of our knowledge about the structure of the Earth. The research of this kind is often initiated or accompanied by divers.”

A layer of cold water at depths of about 100 m (328 ft) allowed Professor Maksimovich to suggest the source of the flow was hidden somewhere there. During the expedition, the famous Russian diver Andrei Rodionov died in search of flow tunnels. It was to him that Martin Robson dedicated his final dive in the lake. Tragically, as Robson returned from the deepest dive of 209 m (685 ft) the disaster struck: just seventy-five feet down, he was ambushed by the bends.

Robson knew that if he continued up to the surface he would probably die before help arrived. Instead, he sank back into the cold water, with electric heating batteries discharged, gambling on an underwater practice most doctors believe is a suicidal act. Soon the only hope he had of saving his life would rest in the hands of a dramatic mercy mission organized at the highest levels of the Russian government.

Between the Devil and the Deep is believed to be the first book to tell the terrifying true story of what it feels like to get the bends, taking you inside the body and mind of a man who suffered the unthinkable. Writer Mark Cowan also explores the grimly fascinating history of decompression sickness, the science behind what causes the disease, and the stories of the forgotten divers who pushed the limits of physical endurance to help find a solution. Albeit the human progress, science is still accompanied by risk, yet it is within our effort to bring it to the minimum, PSU scholars suggest.

Info about the Book:
Between the Devil and the Deep: One Man’s Battle to Beat the Bends
by Mark Cowan (Author), Martin Robson (Author)
Publisher: Unbound
ISBN: 9781800180291
Number of pages: 448
Dimensions: 240 x 159 mm
Hardcover – 22 July 2021

PSU Scholar Announced Best at International Conference in Belarus

Anna Perminova, a PSU researcher from the Natural Science Institute, has presented her report, announced best, at the International Conference “Geographic Aspects of Sustainable Development of Regions” at Gomel State University (Belarus). Overall, there have been presented a total of 127 reports by 200 authors from Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.

Researchers from the Laboratory of Biogeochemistry of Technogenic Landscapes, PSU, presented reports on transformation of the natural environment and rational use of natural resources, drawing the examples of the Verkhnekamskoye salt deposit, a local to Perm terrotory. Anna Perminova was supported by Elena Khairulina, head of the laboratory, and Natalia Mitrakova, senior researcher.

Among many research spheres, the Conference covered the problems of engineering geology, hydrogeology, geophysics; regularities of transformation of ecological functions of geospheres in large mining regions; the rational use of natural resources and environmental protection. The 4th International Scientific and Research Conference “Geographic Aspects of Sustainable Development of Regions” was organized by the Faculty of Geology and Geography, F. Skorina Gomel State University; Voronezh State University; the Russian House in Gomel and the Gomel Department of the Belarusian Geographical Society.


PSU Scientists Analyze Basalt Reserves in Belarus

As part of a group of Permian scientists, PSU geologists examined a deposit of basalts found in the Pinsk region (Belarus), regarding its capacity for production of cast glass-crystalline materials. The total reserves of basalt and tuff are estimated at 164.1 million tons.

“Basalt is known as one of the main ‘building components’ of the earth’s crust. Since 5/6 of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans, it is mostly the oceanic type we are talking about. With a thickness of 5-15 km (3-9 mi), it is mainly represented by basalts. The challenges of basalt technologies have been the subject of our University scientific research for more than 10 years,”

states Dr. Vladimir Naumov, Department of Prospecting and Exploration of Mineral Resources, PSU.

The laboratory and technological samples were sent to the Natural Science Institute at Perm State University, where a complex of analytical and experimental studies have been carried, determining the composition and mineral structure of the initial substance, as well as change of its properties under the high temperatures, within melting,. Using a micro-analyzer, information on samples’ chemical composition was obtained.

“Using the potential of a specially accredited lab here at PSU, enforced by professional equipment and experts involved, recommendations were developed for methods and parameters of rock processing to obtain cast glass-crystalline materials. The scientific report showed the charge compositions with various technological additives; it served a demonstration of specialized melting equipment and principles of its operation, and also commented on physicochemical properties of the materials obtained,”

says Dr. Vladimir Naumov.

The scientists presented a technological scheme for obtaining cast glass-crystalline and welding materials, as well as information on types of products and areas of their application. Also, the analysis of market demand and final products’ application have been performed, with regard to stone casting methods, on industrial scale.

The study involved the cooperation of several research teams, as a ‘test-drive’ consortium of Perm Scientific and Educational Center “Basalt Technologies” – uniting the research Laboratory of Sedimentary and Technogenic Deposits, the Laboratory of Mineralogical and Petrographic Studies at the Natural Science Institute (PSU), the Division of Nano-Mineralogy (PSU), as well as specialists from the Perm National Research Polytechnic University and the Helium Research and Production Company.

On photo: photomicrographs of obtained cast glass-crystalline materials’ surface

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