The Mariana Trench and The Deepsea Challenge
James Cameron, in March 0f 2012, made the solo journey to Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the ocean. Challenger Deep is 10.99 kilometers (6.83 miles) deep and is found at the southern end of the Mariana Trench near Guam. Years in the making, this feat has been compared to landing on the moon.
While thousands of climbers have successfully scaled Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, only two people have descended to the planet’s deepest point, the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.
The Mariana Trench is part of a global network of deep troughs that cut across the ocean floor. They form when two tectonic plates collide. At the collision point, one of the plates dives beneath the other into the Earth’s mantle, creating an ocean trench.
Located in the western Pacific east of the Philippines and an average of approximately 124 miles (200 kilometers) east of the Mariana Islands, the Mariana Trench is a crescent-shaped scar in the Earth’s crust that measures more than 1,500 miles (2,550 kilometers) long and 43 miles (69 kilometers) wide on average.
The distance between the surface of the ocean and the trench’s deepest point, The Challenger Deep, which lies about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of the U.S. territory of Guam, is nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers). If Mount Everest were dropped into the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) underwater.
The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is a crushing eight tons per square inch—or about a thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level. The sub actually shrinks at least 3 inches at the bottom because of the immense pressure. Pressure increases with depth.
The Deepsea Challenge - Diving to Challenger Deep, The Oceans Deepest Canyon
The dive was part of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition, a partnership with National Geographic that took Cameron, along with fellow pilot Ron Allum and a team of engineers, scientists, educators, and journalists, to the greatest depths of the ocean—places where sunlight doesn’t penetrate and pressure can be a thousand times what we experience on land.
In order to make this journey, Cameron and his engineering team utilized revolutionary engineering and cutting-edge technology. They developed a new single-seat submersible that James Cameron himself piloted to Challenger Deep. The sub is 7.9 meters (26 feet) long and unlike anything ever built. Cameron wasn’t able to stretch his legs or spread his arms inside the sub.
At 13,000 feet (3,960 meters), the sub will be in the midst of the abyssal zone, where light no longer penetrates the water and bioluminescent creatures glow in the dark. He’ll still have 23,000 feet (7,010 meters) to go before encountering the seafloor.
At 7 miles (11 Kilometers) down the sub notified Cameron that it had detected the ocean floor in preperation for landing. Once at the bottom, Cameron went into explore mode. Moving the 12-ton sub with a joysticks and imaging life forms and rocks with the cameras and also 3-D cameras that he narrates to. The second phase of the Deepsea Challenge is the scientific alayisis of the findings and the James Cameron is producing a 3D feature film.