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#851 Marianas Trench

deepseachallenge.com 
Ever since I was young I've been fascinated with the Marianas trench. The diagram above helps to show why I always found it so amazing -- we always thing about the highest point, Everest, but we rarely think about how deep the earth goes inwards, and the fact that the earth goes further inwards than it does outwards is really quite incredible. At almost 11km deep (5960 fathoms) at 'Challenger Deep' at its southern end, it is further into the earth than we can go outward although both extremes suffer from too much pressure -- altitude sickness, oxygen deprivation, atmospheric pressure, etc. I just wish it wasn't so inaccessible! 

And even though there are areas of the Arctic ocean floor that go closer to the earth's core (because Earth is not a perfect sphere and the Marianas is at its widest point in the tropics), it is a phenomenal place.

Cool facts:
  • It is 1 to 4 degrees C at the bottom.
  • Xenophyophores are a microbial bacteria life form found deep in the trench.
  • The Marianas Islands were claimed by Spain in 1668.
  • The trench was first 'sounded' in the 1870s.
  • In 1995, an unmanned remote controlled Japanese vehicle completed the deepest dive on record.
  • Four manned descents have been made, the first in 1960, and the most recent by director James Cameron in 2012.
  • Sole, flounder and shrimp have been observed at the bottom.
  • It has been proposed as a place for nuclear waste disposal, in hopes that the tectonic movements will eventually push the waste under the earth and into the earth's mantle. Thank goodness it's prohibited by international law!

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