We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Decompression Stop?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 06, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports&Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports&Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A decompression stop is a pause in a diver's ascent made to allow the body to express dissolved gases in the blood. Without decompression stops, these gases would expand, turning into bubbles and causing decompression sickness. Decompression stops are a critical part of safe deep water diving, with the length and depth of such stops varying depending on the depth and length of the dive. Typically, more than one decompression stop is needed.

When people dive, their bodies are subjected to immense pressure as they go underwater. For every 30 feet (10 meters), an additional “atmosphere of pressure” is added, meaning that someone 60 feet (20 meters) below is experiencing the equivalent of three times the pressure at sea level. At a certain point, the pressure becomes so intense that the human body cannot survive, although no one has determined the precise point at which someone would die from the pressure. Along the way to the bottom, the gases in the human body dissolve into the blood, thanks to the immense pressure.

As a diver ascends, these compressed gases start to expand. If a diver ascends abruptly, the gases expand so quickly that the body cannot eliminate the gas safely, and the diver develops decompression sickness. Therefore, divers make a series of decompression stops to allow their bodies to acclimate to the decreased pressure. At each decompression stop, the diver breathes normally, allowing the dissolved gases to be expressed.

Many divers use computer software to calculate their decompression stops, although it is also possible to do the math by hand. Since most people dive with a buddy or group for safety reasons, people usually do their calculations independently and then compare to confirm that they have established a safe schedule of decompression stops. At regularly used dive spots, there may even be markers in the water to indicate sites for decompression stops, and a decompression stop may even have a decompression trapeze for a diver to rest on for the duration of the stop.

A decompression stop can sometimes be shortened by breathing a special oxygen-rich gas formulation known as “decompression gas” or “deco gas.” Breathing gas with a high oxygen level is dangerous in deep water, so deco gas is usually very clearly labeled so that a diver does not use it by accident. Decompression can also be accomplished in a hyperbaric chamber, a chamber which can be pressurized and controlled, allowing the diver to slowly become accustomed to the pressure at sea level.

Intriguingly, some divers have developed decompression sickness when they fly immediately after a dive. This is because even with decompression stops, the body may still be acclimating to the pressure at sea level, and most planes are underpressurized, so flying is the equivalent of ascending very quickly from a deep dive. For this reason, it's a good idea to wait at least twelve hours and sometimes longer to fly after a deep dive or series of dives.

Sports&Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Sports&Hobbies researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Sports&Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports&Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.