How Deep is the Ocean?
How We Know the Depth
Up until sometime it the 1930s, no one knew for sure how deep the ocean floor went. The only way of measuring it up until then was by by the length of the ropes dropped in by sailors. That all changed with the study of bathymetry. Bathymetry is the study of the bottom of lakes or oceans and by using different methods, scientists create bathymetric (or hydrographic) charts and maps which illustrate the topography of the ocean floor.
So Deep Mount Everest Would Fit
The deepest point on earth, Challenger Deep, lays below the surface of the ocean and is a valley within the Marianas Trench. It is the where the trench sinks the lowest, to about 36,000 feet beneath the sea.
This picture to the right illustrates just how abysmal the Challenger Deep is. As you can see, Mount Everest would fit into the Challenger Deep without a problem and would even have over a mile of water above it.
The Marianas Trench runs just off a chain of 14 islands which make up the Marianas Islands. The Marianas Islands are in the Pacific Ocean near Japan and the coordinates are 11"21' North latitude and 142" 12' East longitude.
Named After The First Ship To Survey The Trench
Challenger Deep got its name from Challenger II, a British survey ship whose crew was able to pinpoint the deep water in 1951.
In 1960, the United States Navy sent a submersible (a miniature submarine that is designed to go to great depths) down into the Marianas Trench to see how far it could reach. It was able to touch bottom at about 36,000 feet.
The trench was created during a process that occurs during plate techtonics called subduction. Subduction occurs when the granitic crusted continental plate is basically sucked down underneath a basaltic crusted oceanic plate.
On The Map
The location is illustrated on the map to the right which isn't that great of a picture. I found it by doing a google image search.
Check Out This Cool Video!
50 Years Since The First And Only Dive To The Trench
January 23, 2010, marked the 50th anniversary of the historic dive in the bathyscape Trieste by John Walsh and Jacques Piccard.
In May of 2009, an unmanned vessel reached the Challenger Deep, but the voyage in 1960 remains the only manned trip to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.
How the Trench was Formed
© 2011 Erin