The deepest point of the ocean is a depression of 10,924 meters, known as the Challenger Deep located in the Pacific Ocean, at the southern end of the Mariana Trench (near the Mariana Islands) which is a deep trench in the shape of half Moon. According to the Five Deeps project, this is the most detailed and reliable measurement of this extreme place. It is, according to these experts, the deepest point in the Pacific in front of the Horizon Abyss (10,816 meters), in the Tonga Trench.
If we were to place Mount Everest at the bottom of Challenger Deep, it would still be higher than the highest mountain on the earth’s surface (which has an elevation of 8,849 meters above sea level), that is, its peak would still be more than 1.6 kilometers underwater.
The Mariana Trench is part of a global network of deep depressions that cut across the ocean floor. They form when two tectonic plates collide. And, at the point of collision, one of the plates plunges under the other in the Earth’s mantle, creating an ocean trench.
Most of the Mariana Trench is currently a US protected area as part of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, established by President George W. Bush in 2009.
launch into the abyss
Due to its depth, there have not been too many descents into Challenger Deep. There have been a few scientific and exploration missions in the Mariana Trench, but the enormous pressures involved make it a difficult and dangerous place for humans and robots alike.
The first people to explore this remote part of the ocean were US Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss doctor Jacques Piccard in 1960. Using the US Navy’s oceanographic research Bathyscaphe Trieste, they descended to about 10,000 meters. Trieste’s journey lasted almost five hours and its return to the surface three hours and 15 minutes. It was only able to stay on the bottom of the ocean for about 20 minutes , because the extreme pressure caused a crack in one of its windows. Their arrival kicked up too much dust from the seafloor for them to take pictures, so it was more of a symbolic milestone than an actual one.
Recall that the pressure increases with depth and at the bottom of the trench is 1,100 atmospheres (the pressure at the surface is only 1 atmosphere). A crushing number, literally.
The most recent drops
Another notable visit to Challenger Deep was made in November 2020 by the Chinese submarine called Fendouzhe which reached 10,909 meters and set a new depth record.
The most recent visit to the Mariana Trench was in March 2021 when British-American adventurer and video game designer Richard Garriott became the first person to visit the North and South Poles, orbit the Earth aboard the Station. Space International and dive to the deepest part of the ocean. Quite a record.
According to The Five Deeps, approximately 80% of the global ocean floor remains to be surveyed with the modern standard of technology . The information collected in this recent study will be delivered to the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to complete a depth map of the ocean by the end of the decade.
As a curiosity, over the course of 10 months, the Five Deeps Global Expedition (2018-2019) mapped approximately 550,000 km2 of seabed, of which 61% was made up of areas never studied before. The deepest points in each ocean were mapped using a state-of-the-art Kongsberg EM 124 multibeam echo sounder for full ocean depths.
Referencia: High-resolution multibeam sonar bathymetry of the deepest place in each ocean Cassandra Bongiovanni, Heather A. Stewart, Alan J. Jamieson The five deeps expedition
First published: 05 May 2021 DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/gdj3.122
Polina Lemenkova Satistical Analysis of the Mariana Trench Geomorphology Using R Programming Language September 2019 Geodesy and Cartography 45(2):57-84 DDOI:10.3846/gac.2019.3785
K.P. Hand, D.H. Bartlett, P. Fryer, L. Peoples, K. Williford, A.E. Hofmann, J. Cameron, Discovery of novel structures at 10.7 km depth in the Mariana Trench may reveal chemolithoautotrophic microbial communities, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, Volume 160, 2020, 103238, ISSN 0967-0637, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2020.103238.