The Mariana Trench
Named after the Mariana Islands of the Pacific Ocean, the trench measures 1580 miles in length, 43 miles wide, and almost seven miles deep. In 1951, the British survey ship Challenger II measured the trench at 35,814 feet. The trench formed from tectonic plates collided, forming this remarkable phenomenon.
If Mt. Everest were dropped into the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be more than a mile underwater.
In 1960, a two-person crew, Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh, would attempt the first-ever dive into the dark abyss. Aboard the Trieste was limited with lights and cameras, yet the dive would be significant, opening a scientific window to the deep ocean.
Scientists believe by studying the ocean trenches, geologists could study subduction faults, possibly predicting future earthquakes and tsunamis, saving countless lives. Others believe life began in the ocean from organisms we could explore. Thus, oceanography is called "the big science" and the planet's future.
There is no question such deep dives are dangerous. There can be any number of problems such as electric fires, the danger of materials used, oxygen, and cooling issues. They could even get entangled in lines laid for communication cables that run across the oceans throughout the globe. It certainly isn't possible to call AAA for road service.
Most attention is given today to space exploration, which is a worthy endeavor, but the Oceans offer astounding scientific discoveries.
A Daring Trip To The Bottom Of The Mariana Trench
In 2012, after 52 years of the dive of the Trieste, James Cameron, who was consumed by exploring the oceans for years, was building his Challenger Deep. Cameron was an Oscar-winning filmmaker with Abyss, Terminator 2, Judgement Day, Avatar 2, and 3. He would spend 10 million of his own money to build his submersible.
It would be a unique vertical design powdered by 70 lithium batteries, each the size of a loaf of bread, that would allow him to get high-quality video imaging and the capability of making 3-D movies. First, he realized the construction necessary to withstand the deep pressures. Using pynactric foam, an epoxy matrix containing hallowed microspheres, he has set the standard now used for the last twenty years.
Cameron's Trip To The Bottom Of The Mariana Trench
Cameron's voyage to the very bottom of the Mariana Trench surprised not only him but scientists as well. At 36,000 feet, Cameron found a plastic bag indicating trash even at this depth. He also found translucent animals called holothurians. Among other animals were:
- A dumbo octopus
- Comb jellies
- Black Seadevil
- Barrel Fish
- Frilled shark
- Hatchet fish
Found in the guts of these animals were microplastics giving us even further insight into the harmful effects of problems encountered in our oceans.
Other Trenches In The Oceans
Although the Mariana Trench is by far the deepest, others include:
ic Ocean 17,881 feet
Indiana Ocean 25,344 feet
Atlantic Rio 28,374 feet
Today, the Mariana Trench is a U.S. Protected Zone and a part of the Mariana Trench National Monument established by President George W. Bush in 2009.