Where can you find the deepest point in the Earth's oceans?
And the answer: Mariana Trench.
Reaching depths of 11,034 meters (almost 7 miles deep), the Mariana Trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean, near Guam and the Mariana Islands. If you were to put Mount Everest at the bottom of the trench, its peak would still be more than 2100 meters below sea level.
Officially discovered in 1875 by the British Royal Navy, the Mariana Trench reaches depths nearly as remote to humans as the surface of the moon. If you threw a stone into the Mariana Trench, it would take over an hour for it to reach the bottom. It is one of the most ancient sea beds on the planet, clocking in at over 180 million years old.
While the origins of this deepest point are largely unknown, scientists speculate that it was formed over millions of years through a process called subduction. Subduction occurs when a plate of oceanic crust is subducted underneath another plate, sinking it into the earth’s mantle and forming underground chambers.
Interestingly, the deep sea and the Mariana Trench are nearly different entities altogether. The pressure in the Trench clocks in at around 16,000 pounds per square inch – that’s about the same amount of pressure of a 12-gauge shotgun when fired. Due to these extreme conditions, there have only been four successful missions to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
In 2012, film director James Cameron (best known for Titanic and Terminator) decided to pilot a deep-diving submersible into the Mariana Trench. The craft was called Deep Sea Challenger, and was equipped with over 180 onboard systems. Though Deep Sea Challenger was the most sophisticated underwater vessel ever built, Cameron’s trip was not without extreme risks. The pressure in the Trench is so extreme that if the craft did not hold up, Cameron could be “turned to jelly” in a matter of minutes. Luckily, the director made it out unscathed, and not without images of the most remote location in our planet’s oceans.
To get a feel for the depths of the Mariana Trench, check out the video below.