The Mariana Trench (or Mariana Trench) is the deepest place on the earth’s surface. It is located on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, 200 kilometers east of the Mariana Archipelago.
Paradoxically, humankind knows much more about the secrets of space or mountain peaks than about the depths of the ocean. And one of the most mysterious and unexplored places on our planet is just the Mariana Trench. So what do we know about him?
Mariana Trench – the bottom of the world
In 1875, the team of the British Corvette “Challenger” found in the Pacific Ocean a place where there was no bottom. Kilometer after kilometer rope lot went overboard, but there was no bottom! And only at a depth of 8184 meters the descent of the rope stopped. So the deepest underwater crack on the Earth was discovered. She was called the Mariana Trench, on behalf of the nearby islands. Its shape (in the form of a crescent) and the location of the deepest section, called the Challenger Void, was determined. It is located 340 km south of the island of Guam and has coordinates of 11 ° 22 ′ s. sh., 142 ° 35 ′ c. d.
“The fourth pole”, “the womb of Gaia”, “the bottom of the world” has since called this deep-sea hollow. Oceanographers have long tried to find out its true depth. Studies of different years gave different values. The fact is that at such a colossal depth the density of water increases as it approaches the bottom, therefore the sound properties from the echo-sounder in it also change. Using barometers and thermometers at different levels along with echo sounders, in 2011, the depth of the Challenger Abyss was set at 10994 ± 40 meters. This is the height of Mount Everest plus two more kilometers from the top.
The pressure at the bottom of the underwater crevasse is almost 1,100 atmospheres, or 108.6 MPa. Most deep-sea apparatuses are designed for a maximum depth of 6-7 thousand meters. During the time that has passed since the discovery of the deepest canyon, it was possible to successfully reach its bottom only four times.
In 1960, for the first time in the world, the deep-water bathyscaphe Trieste descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the area of the Challenger Void with two passengers on board: US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Picard.
Their observations led to an important conclusion about the presence of life at the bottom of the canyon. The discovery of the upward flow of water was also of major environmental importance: based on it, the nuclear powers refused to bury radioactive waste at the bottom of the Marian failure.
In the 90s, the trench examined the Japanese Kaiko unmanned probe, which brought samples from the bottom of the silt in which bacteria, worms, shrimps, as well as pictures of the hitherto unknown world were found.
In 2009, the American robot Nereus conquered the abyss, raising silt from the bottom of the sample, minerals, samples of deep-water fauna and photos of inhabitants of unknown depths.
In 2012, James Cameron, the author of Titanic, Terminator and Avatar, dived alone into the abyss. He spent 6 hours on the bottom, collecting samples of soil, minerals, fauna, as well as taking photographs and 3D video. On the basis of this material the film “Call to the Abyss” was created.
In the trench at a depth of about 4 kilometers is located active volcano Daikoku, spewing liquid sulfur, which boils at 187 ° C in a small recess. The only lake of liquid sulfur was discovered only on the satellite of Jupiter – Io.
At 2 kilometers from the surface, “black smokers” are curling up — geothermal water sources with hydrogen sulfide and other substances that, when contacted with cold water, turn into black sulfides. The movement of sulphide water is reminiscent of black smoke. The temperature of the water at the point of release reaches 450 ° C. The surrounding sea does not boil only because of the density of water (150 times higher than that of the surface).
In the north of the canyon are “white smokers” – geysers erupting liquid carbon dioxide at a temperature of 70-80 ° C. Scientists assume that it is in such geothermal “boilers” that the sources of life on Earth should be sought. Hot springs “warm up” icy waters, supporting life in the abyss – the temperature at the bottom of the Mariana Trench is within 1-3 ° C.
Life outside life
It would seem that in an atmosphere of complete darkness, silence, ice cold and unbearable pressure, life in the depression is simply unthinkable. But studies of the depression prove the opposite: there are living beings almost 11 kilometers under water!
The bottom of the dip is covered with a thick layer of mucus from organic sediments, descending from the upper layers of the ocean for hundreds of thousands of years. Mucus is an excellent nutrient medium for barrophilic bacteria, which form the basis of the nutrition of the simplest and multicellular. Bacteria, in turn, become food for more complex organisms.
The ecosystem of the underwater canyon is truly unique. Living creatures were able to adapt to an aggressive, destructive environment in normal conditions, at high pressure, lack of light, low oxygen and high concentrations of toxic substances. Life in such unbearable conditions gave many inhabitants abysmal and unattractive appearance.
Deep-sea fish have an incredible-sized maw, seated with sharp long teeth. High pressure made their bodies small (from 2 to 30 cm). However, there are also large specimens, such as, for example, the amoeba-xenofiofor, reaching 10 cm in diameter. The fierce shark and goat shark (goblin), living at a depth of 2000 meters, generally reach 5-6 meters in length.
At different depths live representatives of different types of living organisms. The deeper inhabitants of the abyss, the better their organs of vision are developed, allowing in full darkness to catch the slightest gleam of light on the body of prey. Some individuals themselves are able to produce directional light. Other creatures are completely devoid of organs of sight, they are replaced by organs of touch and radar. With increasing depth, underwater inhabitants lose their color more and more, the bodies of many of them are almost transparent.
On the slopes, where the “black smokers” are located, there live mollusks who have learned to neutralize the sulfides and hydrogen sulfide that are deadly for them. And, as long as it remains a mystery to scientists, under conditions of enormous pressure at the bottom, they miraculously manage to preserve their mineral shell whole. Similar abilities are shown by other inhabitants of the Mariana Trench. The study of samples of the fauna showed a multiple excess of the level of radiation and toxic substances.
Unfortunately, deep-sea creatures die because of pressure changes when they try to lift them to the surface. Only thanks to modern deep-sea apparatuses has it become possible to study the inhabitants of the depression in their natural environment. Representatives of the fauna not known to science have already been identified.
Secrets and mysteries of the “womb of Gaia”
The mysterious abyss, like any unknown phenomenon, is shrouded in a mass of secrets and mysteries. What does she hide in her depths? Japanese scientists claimed that, feeding the goblin sharks, they saw a 25 meter long shark devouring goblins. A monster of this size could only be a megalodon shark, extinct almost 2 million years ago! The evidence is the discoveries of the teeth of the megalodon in the vicinity of the Mariana Trench, whose age dates back only 11 thousand years. It can be assumed that in the depths of the dip there are still instances of these monsters.
There are a lot of stories about gigantic monsters thrown on the corpses. During the descent into the abyss of the German submarine “Hayfish” immersion stopped at 7 km from the surface. To understand the reason, the passengers of the capsule turned on the lights and were horrified: their bathyscaphe, like a nut, was trying to gnaw some kind of prehistoric lizard! Only a pulse of electric current on the outer skin managed to scare away the monster.
At another time, when the American deep-sea apparatus was submerged, the grinding of metal began to come from under the water. The descent was stopped. When inspecting the lifted equipment, it turned out that the metal cable made of titanium alloy was half sawed (or gnawed), and the beams of the underwater vehicle were bent.
In 2012, the video camera of the unmanned aerial vehicle “Titan” transmitted a picture of metal objects, presumably a UFO, from a depth of 10 kilometers. Soon communication with the device was interrupted.
Unfortunately, there is no documentary evidence of these interesting facts, all of them are based only on eyewitness accounts. Each story has its own fans and skeptics, its arguments for and against.
Before venturing into the hollow, James Cameron said that he wanted to see with his own eyes at least some of the secrets of the Mariana Hollow, about which so many rumors and legends circulate. But he did not see anything that went beyond the verge of the knowable.
So what do we know about her?
To understand how the Mariana underwater slit was formed, it should be remembered that such slits (gutters) are usually formed along the edges of the oceans under the action of moving lithospheric plates. Ocean plates, as older and heavier, “creep up” under the continental, forming deep dips at the joints. The deepest is the joint of the Pacific and Philippine tectonic plates near the Mariana Islands (Mariana Trench). The Pacific Plate moves at a speed of 3-4 centimeters per year, as a result of which increased volcanic activity occurs at both its edges.
Throughout the length of this deepest dip, four so-called bridges were found – transverse mountain ridges. The ridges were formed presumably due to the movement of the lithosphere and volcanic activity.
The groove in the diameter is V-shaped, greatly expanding upwards and tapering downwards. The average width of the canyon in the upper part is 69 kilometers, in the widest part – up to 80 kilometers. The average width of the bottom between the walls is 5 kilometers. The slope of the walls is almost vertical and is only 7-8 °. The depression stretches 2,500 kilometers from north to south. The gutter has an average depth of about 10,000 meters.
Only three people today have been at the very bottom of the Mariana Trench. In 2018, another manned dive to the “bottom of the world” is planned on its deepest part. This time, the well-known Russian traveler Fedor Konyukhov and polar explorer Arthur Chilingarov will try to conquer the hollow and find out what it is hiding in its depths. A deep-water bathyscaphe is currently being manufactured and a research program is being drawn up.