They say we know more about Mars than we know about the Earth’s oceans. You may choose to disagree with the aforementioned statement. But it is true. We hardly know 10 percent of our entire water bodies. Every year marine biologists discover loads of new species and that alone is a proof that there is yet a lot of things we do not know about our own planet. Intriguing and haunting at the same time. Isn't it? Marianas Trench is one such place on the Earth’s ocean floor which is probably the pinnacle of this in-house mystery. Movies, comics, television shows, and books all have at some point in time mentioned the Marianas Trench, sometimes called the Mariana Trench. For the intellectually obnoxious, the Marianas Trench is the deepest point on the ocean bed and it is located south of Japan in the West Pacific Ocean. The deepest point is called the ‘Challenger Deep’ as it was first being discovered by the HMS Challenger back in the year 1875. Here are a few facts which might enlighten you about one of the Earth’s most mysterious places.
1. The Marinara Trench is 2,550 kilometers long which is around 1,580 miles but the average width only amounts to 69 kilometers, which is roughly about 43 miles. The trench stretches out to a maximum depth of 36,070 feet or 10,994 meters.
2. At the very bottom, that is, at the sea floor, the pressure is 15,750 psi, that amounts to 1000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at the sea level. This results in the increase of density of water at the bottom of the Marianas Trench by a little more than 4 percent. For instance, one hundred liters of water on the sea level will amount to only 94 liters in Challenger Deep, the lowest point in Mariana Trench. Such an extreme amount of pressure will have catastrophic effects on an exposed human being.
3. Needless to say, there is no light in the Marianas Trench. That is why life form in that particular area is so studied upon and is deemed interesting. The creatures at that kind of depth live out their lifespan in utter darkness and grow in completely different circumstances as compared to their counterparts on land or at sea level. For instance, amphipods on the sea level are tiny in size and often are not even noticed due to their insignificant small stature. However, at depths such as the Marianas Trench, amphipods are gigantic in size.
4. Although many would think that the Marianas Trench is the closest point on the planet to the core, it is indeed not. This is because the Earth is not a perfect sphere. It is crooked and looks more like an oval, which is compressed more at the poles than at the equator. To be precise, it is 16 miles or 25 kilometers thinner from the poles than at the equator. This makes the poles closer to the center of the planet.
5. During an expedition in July 2011, researchers found life at a record depth of 6.6 miles or 10.6 kilometers. They found giant ‘xenophyophores’ which are essentially supergiant multi nuclei single celled amoeba. They measured up to 4 inches or 10 centimeters. These creatures extract the minerals from things around them to form a hard exoskeleton in order to protect their fragile bodies.
6. The very first expedition to the deep trenches of Marianas was made even before the Beatles released their first album. We surely have come a long way. The journey was made by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in the United States Navy owned Italian-built, and Swiss designed ‘Trieste’ which made a touchdown at the Challenger Deep at exactly 1.06 PM on January 23, 1960. For the weight of the ship, iron shot or ballast was used. As far as the buoyancy is concerned, it was taken care of by gasoline. The actual depth was calculated by taking into consideration the amount of pressure and the water density from the seafloor to the ocean bed. This was followed by 2 unmanned expeditions to the Marianas Trench in the year 1996 and 2009.
7. A surprising journey was made by the popular Academy Award-winning director and filmmaker James Cameron in 2012 who made it to the bottom of the Marianas Trench in his own submarine. The submarine was a small vessel that could only accommodate Cameron. James Cameron made contact with the ocean floor on March 26, 2012.
8. There are multiple vents on the Ocean floor in Challenger Deep which shoot out extremely hot water which is as hot as 700 degrees Fahrenheit or 450 degree Celsius. This is completely contrary to the average temperature in the Marianas Trench which is about 1 to 4 degree Celsius. However, the water ceases to boil because of the extreme atmospheric pressure. Also, the water is extremely rich in minerals which is why life is able to thrive at such depths despite the lack of sunlight.
9. The pressure in the Marianas Trench is already being discussed as being more than enough to squish a human being like raw tomatoes. But did you know that you can also find carbon dioxide in the trench in its liquid form? This happens because of the intense pressure in that area. When the vents on the ocean floor exert out hot water and carbon dioxide, it comes out in the form of a liquid.
10. The underwater Daikoku volcano contains one of the rarest sights on the planet. It has a lake full of hot molten sulfur. Although it is really near to the surface, it manages to maintain a temperature high enough to keep the sulfur in its molten state. The closest example we have to something like this is Jupiter’s satellite Cauldron. It has a similar geological structure which contains liquid sulfur and is estimated to be as hot as 187 degree Celsius.
I hope you liked the article and learned new things. The Marianas Trench is still an unknown domain and a mere handful of descents will not help us unravel the mysteries of the deep waters. But one thing’s for sure that we will definitely find out what is down there, as humanity always has.
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