Ocean Depths

Humanity's curiosity has led us to the highest mountains, the most remote places on the planet and the deepest parts of the ocean.

The absolute deepest place

There has not been any doubt for some time now that the deepest spot in all of the earth's oceans is the Marianas Trench, in the western Pacific Ocean. If it were on the surface, it would be a valley 1,580 miles long averaging 69 miles in width.

The Marianas Trench has been the subject of much scientific investigation since its discovery during the first Challenger expedition, carried out between December of 1872 and May 1876.

The first recorded depth was 26,850 feet. This was later corrected to 31,614 feet, a figure that was accepted as correct up until the British ship HMS Challenger II, using more accurate echo-sounding, established the depth to be 36,198 feet at 11 degrees 21 minutes north and 142 degrees 12 minutes east.

The deepest reaches of the Marianas Trench have been visited twice in history by man.

The voyage of the Trieste

The first visit was with the Swiss-designed and Italian-built bathyscaphe Trieste, captained by the famous explorer Jacques Cousteau and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh. They first reached the bottom on January 23 1960.

Cousteau reported sighting a flounder-like fish at that depth, but doubts about his claim have since arisen, and it is suspected that is was actually a sea cucumber.

Recent new descent

Towards the end of 2012, famous film director James Cameron of Titanic fame reached the climax of a year's effort, costing millions of dollars, to duplicate the journey originally accomplished by the Trieste. Descending almost seven miles to the deepest part of the ocean with very high-tech 3D cameras and a tower of high intensity LED lights, Cameron documented his accomplishment and collected data for scientist to analyze. We can expect the future release of a 3D movie of this incredible adventure.

His craft, Deep Sea Challenger, weighs 11 tons and was built in great secrecy. He beat the effort of British Tycoon Sir Richard Branson, who not so secretly has been working on a similar effort.

Cameron spent four hours roving along the bottom in the Deep Sea Challenger, gathering soil samples and observing the tectonic qualities of the area, which is suspected to have played a role in the 2011 earthquake that devastated parts of Japan.

Cameron stated that once he reached the bottom, he encountered very fine silt, which he had to be careful not to disturb, as well as a few possible as-yet unknown life forms.

Other deep places in the oceans of the world

The Marianas Trench, without a doubt, is the very deepest place, when measured from the surface of the sea, but there are some other notable places in other oceans:

  • The deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean is the Puerto Rico trench, with a maximum known-depth of 28,374 feet.
  • In the Southern Ocean, a spot just south of the South Sandwich Islands is pegged at 23,736 feet.
  • The Indian Ocean is home to the Java Trench, measuring 23,376 feet.
  • The deepest place in the Arctic Ocean is in the Eurasia Basin, at a mere 17,881 feet.
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