No sunlight, extremely high pressure, limited food, and freezing temperature; some might wonder if it is hell. Nope, it’s the deepest point of the Earth, Mariana Trench.

Only two individuals have descended to the planet’s deepest point, the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, despite the fact that countless climbers have successfully scaled Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth.

The Mariana Trench, located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific Ocean, is the world’s deepest oceanic trench. 

It’s crescent-shaped, with a length of 2,550 kilometers (1,580 miles) and a width of 69 kilometers (43 miles). 

Mount Everest’s peak would still be underwater by more than two kilometers if placed in the trench at this point (1.2 mi).

Table of Contents

The formation of the trench

Mariana Trench | In Pursuit of the Abyss | Video Credit – Natural World Facts

The Mariana Trench was formed by two large slabs of oceanic crust colliding in a subduction zone. 

One portion of oceanic crust is pushed and pulled into the other at a subduction zone, descending into the Earth’s mantle, the layer beneath the crust. 

A deep trench arises above the bend in the sinking crust where the two-crust pieces join. The Pacific Ocean crust is bending beneath the Philippine crust in this case.

Where it dives into the trench, the Pacific crust, also known as a tectonic plate, is around 170 million years old. Compared to the Pacific plate, the Philippine plate is younger and smaller.

Despite its depth, the trench is not the closest location to the Earth’s center. At the poles, the radius is around 16 miles(25 kilometers) because the globe bulges at the equator, the radius at the equator is shorter. 

As a result, parts of the Arctic Ocean’s bottom are closer to the Earth’s center than the Challenger Deep.

The water column above imposes a pressure of 1,086 bars (15,750 psi) at the bottom of the trench. 

It’s the equivalent of 50 jumbo planes piled on top of one person, or more than 1,071 times the average atmospheric pressure at sea level.

Mariana Trench Creatures 

One of the highlights of the dive, a dumbo octopus uses his ear-like fins to slowly swim away this coiled leg body posture has never been observed before in this species | Image Credit – Flickr

In these extreme settings, recent research expeditions have uncovered a remarkable species diversity. 

Animals living at the Mariana Trench’s lowest depths must adapt to utter darkness and severe pressure.

The expedition in 1960 reported having discovered big species dwelling at the bottom, such as a flatfish around 30 cm (12 in) long and shrimp, with significant astonishment due to the immense pressure.

A waste of hard diatomaceous slime developed at the bottom, which appeared light and translucent. 

Many marine experts are now doubtful of the flatfish’s existence, and it’s been argued that it turned out to be a sea cucumber.

Crewless aerial vehicle During the second expedition, Kaik collected mud samples from the seafloor. In such samples, tiny organisms were discovered to be alive.

To examine this deep marine location, a research team launched untethered landers known as drop cams, outfitted with digital video cameras and lights in July 2011.

Among the many other living species found were Monothalamea amoebas were huge single-celled amoebas that were even more than 10 cm (4 in) in length. 

Monothalamea is notable for its size, abundance on the bottom, and role as hosts for a wide range of species.

In December 2014, a new snailfish species was discovered at a depth of 8,145 meters (26,722 feet), breaking the previous record for the deepest living fish ever photographed.

Several new species were discovered during the 2014 trip, including gigantic amphipods known as supergiants. 

The process by which deep-sea organisms grow larger than their shallow-water cousins is known as deep-sea gigantism.

New snailfish species discovered | Image Credit – Wikimedia

An undetermined variety of snailfish was captured at a depth of 8,178 meters in May 2017 (26,800 ft).

The three most abundant animals discovered at the Mariana Trench’s bottom are xenophyophores, amphipods, and small sea cucumbers (holothurians).

The single-celled xenophyophores look like enormous amoebas and feed by encircling and absorbing their prey.

Deep-sea pollution

Deep Sea Pollution

Regrettably, the deep sea can act as a sink for poisons and rubbish that have been discharged. 

According to a study performed by Newcastle University, human-made substances prohibited in the 1970s are still lurking in the ocean’s deepest depths.

The researchers observed unusually high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the fatty tissues of amphipods (shrimp-like crustaceans) collected from the Mariana and Kermadec trenches.

Research writes in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution claims that these chemicals included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are extensively employed as electrical insulators and flame retardants. 

From the 1930s to the 1970s, these POPs were discharged into the environment due to industrial mishaps, and landfill leaks were banded. 

Some Interesting Mariana Trench Facts

Mariana Trench
Mariana Trench | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
  • It goes deeper than the tallest mountain. Because of its incredible height and the weather conditions linked with it, everyone knows Mount Everest is a significant challenge for mountain climbers worldwide. Mount Everest, on the other hand, would be more than a mile underwater if it were ever placed in the Mariana Trench.
  • Because no sunlight reaches the Mariana Trench, you may anticipate the water to be cold. You’d be correct. The water temperature there is usually between 34 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • What’s astonishing, however, is how hot the water may get. Hydrothermal vents can be found all around the trench. At 700 degrees Fahrenheit, the water that flows out of those vents would scald anyone – but don’t worry, anyone not in a robust vessel would be crushed by the incredible pressure first.
  • During a globe tour in 1875, the Mariana Trench was discovered for the first time. It was discovered with the use of sounding equipment aboard the HMS Challenger. It was called after the Mariana Islands, which are close by.

Wrapping Up

The Mariana Trench is home to the world’s deepest known locations, vents spewing liquid sulfur and carbon dioxide, active mud volcanoes, and marine life adapted to extreme pressures. 

We know a little about what’s down there because of modern technology and a few courageous souls who risked their lives to investigate the trench.

(Last Updated on April 3, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Rishu Shakya, a bachelor’s degree graduate in Business Information Management, holds an extraordinary empathy towards mother nature and her ecosystem. She has always been captivated by green Earth and its charm. She regards spreading awareness about clean energy and sustainable development as her passion as well as responsibility. She believes her compassion about the Earth and human relationships will undoubtedly assist our planet to be a better place.