B2 Reading Gapped Text Exam 8
Working under the sea
Rona Harman is director of the British Oceanography Centre, and spends her time either teaching or doing research into marine geochemistry, the science of the chemical processes in the sea, which involves her spending a lot of time at the bottom of the oceans. She gets there in a steel vehicle made especially for underwater exploration, and is the size of a small car. It can dive to three kilometres below the surface of the Atlantic, but the space within it is extremely limited.
When it dives, it takes three hours to get to the ocean floor, ten hours collecting samples and three to get back to the surface, a total of sixteen hours.
If an emergency develops, the panic button is pressed, upon which the outside disengages from the spherical escape vessel, which is released and shoots up to the surface like a ball.
The first time she used the vessel, she went with an instructor, and wasn't sure how she would react.
That was actually a test to see how she would react, and since then she has made six further dives. Her last project was a joint Russian dive to a site near the Canary Islands in the Atlantic ocean.
The Russian team needed to set up some equipment to discover the effect of a multi-national programme that would make a hole 150 metres through a volcano, because this is where the Atlantic comes alive. She spends sixty percent of her time teaching, but her main interest is her research into these 'black smokers', which is the name given to under-water volcanoes, where water comes out of the rock and looks like black smoke.
She had a bad experience once while working with an American team. They were towing equipment on a 50-metre rope when suddenly there was an explosion and an immense bang as the shock waves hit the vehicle. She expected something worse to happen and waited in silence.
She was extremely relieved and lucky because working in this part of the ocean, although very beautiful and amazing, is also a very dangerous adventure.
Sometimes she reflects on the fact that she is the first person to ever see what she can see.
She had spent over three years studying black smokers for her PhD before she got the chance to go down and actually see one for real. She was amazed at how beautiful it was.
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