Two minute read. Written by Ayanna Chahar – a grade 9 student.
The Mariana Trench, also called the Marianas Trench, is a crescent-shaped trench ( trench means a long and narrow depression in the ground) that is known to be the deepest point of the Earth, which is about 11,034 meters. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, about 200 kilometres east to the Mariana Islands. These islands are the part of a under-water mountain range that extends from Guam to near Japan. See below:
This trench lies in an area where two of the Earth’s plates (The Pacific Plate and the Phillipine plate) come together. The Mariana Trench is named after the nearby Mariana islands (in turn named Las Marianas in honour of Spanish Queen Mariana of Austria) and it contains the Earth’s deepest known area.
The Mariana Trench is known to be the deepest, darkest and the most mysterious place underwater. It is so deep down that even sunlight fails to make its way in there. To reach the very deepest part you will have to travel to the southern part of the Mariana Trench, where there is a small valley at the depth of around 36,037 ft which is known as ‘Challenger Deep’. Studies tell us that even if the world’s largest mountain, The Mount Everest is placed inside the Challenger Deep, there will still be a difference of around one mile between the mountains peak and the surface of the water.
What It’s Really Like Travelling To The Mariana Trench
Human Beings are actually known to be relatively good divers. As you start submerging into the waters of the Mariana Trench you have no problems at first. As you get deeper, you feel as if some invisible force is squeezing you from all sides. This is due to the increasing pressure as you go downwards. That is basically the weight of the ocean above trying to crush you. Usually people can withstand 3 to 4 atmospheres of pressure which means you can submerge to a depth of 130-140 feet without any problem. Any deeper than that can start causing discomfort. Soon you will realise that it is getting darker. Since you have left the sunlight zone of the ocean, access to sunlight stops. Next you will be making your way deeper to the twilight zone.
The twilight zone usually starts at the depth of 660 ft. To travel to the Mariana Trench, you will require proper scuba diving equipment. This equipment normally keeps you safe from the deep and deadly waters of the Mariana Trench along with the pressure. It maintains a suitable pressure inside the suit hence secures the body. This equipment protects you till around 660 ft. Any further than that you will need a more advanced and secure suit because of the ever growing pressure as you continue to go down. For example, you could put on an atmospheric diving suit, which is hard shelled and equipped with everything you may need at a great depth. This suit could take you to a depth of 2,300 ft without any discomfort.
It is also a known fact that there are quite a few who have gone to the Mariana Trench but have not made their way back.
Other ways to make it to the bottom
Another way to go all the way down is using a special submarine constructed for deep dives. This submarine can take you to the very bottom of the Mariana Trench. From the sea shore, it would take you about 2.5 hours to reach your destination. At around a depth of 3,280 ft, in the ‘Midnight Zone’, everything around you is likely to be pitch black and there is no sign of sunshine anywhere. The water around you is blanketed in darkness. The pressure outside your submarine is unbearable and it is about 1,000 times higher than the standard atmospheric pressure you experience at sea level. Even the temperature outside your submarine is close to freezing from 35 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you step a foot out of your shelter which is the submarine about 8 tons of water would press down on each square inch of you body. That is pretty much like 50 jumbo jets being placed on top of you and crushing you.
Herbet Nitsch – the man who made it down
Herbert Nitsch is an Austrian free diver who is recognised for holding the world’s records in all of the eight free diving disciplines known by AIDA international. He is the current free diving world record champion including the deepest dive to the Mariana Trench. He has been given a nickname as the ‘Deepest Man on Earth’. He travelled about 831 ft beneath the surface of the ocean. Human misdemeanour has not even spared the deepest area of the earth, Herbet Nitsch found a plastic bag right at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
While travelling to the Mariana Trench may sound very exciting and tempting, it is important to be extremely careful because it may be The Dive of your life.
Written by Ayanna Chahar
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