The Planet’s Deepest Point- Mariana Trench
While thousands have scaled the planet’s highest point, Mount Everest, only a mere TWO people have descended into the planet’s deepest point, the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.
The Mariana Trench is a crescent-shaped scar in the Earth’s crust that measures more than 1,500 miles long and 43 miles wide. Most people find it hard to comprehend just how deep Mariana Trench is. Here’s a good way to put it into perspective: If Mount Everest were dropped into the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be more than a mile underwater. Pretty amazing. It’s very thought-provoking to think how much undiscovered life rests at the bottom of this trench, and how much of it we haven’t seen yet.
The Mariana Trench is part of a global network of deep troughs that cut across the ocean floor. “The depths of the Mariana Trench were first plumbed in 1875 by the British ship H.M.S. Challenger as part of the first global oceanographic cruise. The Challenger scientists recorded a depth of 4,475 fathoms (about five miles) using a weighted sounding rope. In 1951, the British vessel H.M.S. Challenger II returned to the spot with an echo-sounder and measured a depth of nearly seven miles.”
Most of Mariana Trench is now a U.S. protected zone under a 2009 act by President G.W. Bush that established it as a National Marine Monument. Because of its extreme depth, the Mariana Trench is cloaked in perpetual darkness and the temperature is just a few degrees above freezing. The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is a crushing eight tons per square inch, which is about a thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.
The first and only time humans descended into the Challenger Deep was more than 50 years ago. In 1960, Jacques Piccard and Navy Lt. Don Walsh reached this goal in a U.S. Navy submersible, a bathyscaphe called the Trieste. After a five-hour descent, the pair spent only a scant 20 minutes at the bottom and were unable to take any photographs due to clouds of silt stirred up by their passage.
I love thinking about all of the unexplored parts of our world. Even though we seem to know so much and have seen almost everything, there are still parts we haven’t been able to fully document or uncover, no matter just how much technology we’ve developed yet. I personally am excited for advances in the future when we will be able to uncloak what these undiscovered worlds hold for us.