The Mariana Trench. It's not only the deepest point in the ocean — it's also the lowest known elevation on Earth. To gauge its depth, consider the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest. This trench is deeper than that mountain is tall. The Mariana Trench is about 36,198 feet (about 11,033 meters) deep. Everest is a mere 29,029 feet (about 8,848 meters) tall.
Other random facts about Mariana Trench:
- The trench measures about 1,580 miles (about 2,550 kilometers) long and 43 miles (about 69 kilometers) wide.
- The trench was created when the Pacific Plate was subducted or sucked under the Mariana Plate in a tectonic plate shifting event.
- This tectonic plate shifting event also formed the Mariana Islands, so people had a place to stay while visiting the trench. Only three descent attempts to the bottom have been successful.
- The US Navy manned a bathyscaphe named Trieste and touched bottom at 1:06 p.m. on 3 January 1960. On the bottom they saw sole, flounder and a shrimp, as well as algae ooze. They resurfaced earlier than planned due to a 6-inch (about 15-centimeter) crack in one of Trieste's windows.
- The Japanese didn't want to make the trip themselves, so they sent a remote-controlled underwater vehicle named Kaikō to check it out in 1995. It brought back bacteria samples.
- The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution took a gander in 2009 with a hybrid remote-controlled underwater vehicle named Nereus (after the Greek god with a human torso and a fish tail). It brought back liquid and rock so scientists could better study the effects of the plate subduction situation.
- To accomplish a successful descent requires withstanding pressures of more than 1,000 times what we experience on the Earth's surface.
- The trench is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire — the 25,000-mile (about 40,233-kilometer) area where most of the Earth's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place.
- There are heat vents in the trench that spew hot water that can reach 572 degrees Fahrenheit (about 300 degrees Celsius) — that's well above boiling!
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