Lying to the east of the Mariana islands in the Western Pacific ocean, the Mariana trench represents the deepest point of the world’s oceans.
A colossal 2,5000km long and 69km wide on average, the trench has been seen and explored only a few times by the world’s most daring adventurers.
Very little is known about the Mariana trench, other than that the pressure on the seabed surrounding it is enough to crush a London bus like a can of beans under someone’s foot. The pressure in the water column above the trench floor can reach 1,086 bars, 1000 times greater than atmospheric pressure at sea level.
At its deepest point of 10,994 meters, in a small valley known as the Challenger Deep, nothing can survive.
Only two people have ever descended into the Mariana trench successfully. The first was Jacques Piccard and Navy Lt. Don Walsh, in 1960. No photographs were able to be taken at the bottom due to the extreme temperatures. The descent lasted 5 hours in total.
More recently, in March 2012, world-renowned movie director and adventurer James Cameron descended solo into the trench, making a documentary called James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge. This gave, for the first time, a glimpse into what it is like at the deepest known point of the oceans.
Descending in a custom made deep sea sub, the Challenger Deep, Cameron successfully descended to the bottom of the trench with only 43 inches of space in which to move.
Yet even after this most recent descent, less is know about the Mariana trench than is known about the surface of Mars. The earth’s oceans and deepest points are fast becoming a powerful draw for explorers, adventurers, and scientists keen to learn more about what goes on in the deepest depths of our planet.
Expect deep sea exploration to continue and the number of expeditions to grow in the coming years. What lies beneath nobody truly knows, and as long as that remains so, curious men and women around the world will be steadily working to close that gap in knowledge.
What other deep sea exploration projects do you know of? What was discovered? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.