James Cameron's descent into the Mariana Trench used a specially-made submarine built in Australia. National Geographic sponsored the Deepsea Challenger, a green submarine that is sleek, state-of-the-art and carries a single passenger to the deepest depths possible.
How deep can the submersible go? Check out some of these deep places in Earth's three largest oceans.
The Mariana Trench is the deepest place in any ocean, at an average depth of 11 kilometers (or nearly seven miles), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Located off the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Geological Survey states the physical trench is more than 1,550 miles long and 44 miles wide underneath the ocean.
The deepest part of the Mariana Trench is known as the Challenger Deep. In 1960, two U.S. Navy sailors descended in the submersible Trieste to a depth of 37,800 feet under the surface of the Pacific. To date, it is the deepest dive accomplished by any human being.
In 1960, the Navy sailors stayed just 20 minutes at the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.
Puerto Rico Trench
The Puerto Rico Trench is located just north of Puerto Rico in the mid-Atlantic. At depths of around five miles, the trench is the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean. A mapping expedition was undertaken by NOAA in 2002 and 2003 that resulted in three mapping runs across the 430-mile long tectonic plate boundary. The deepest part of the trench is 5.2 miles (27,500 feet) deep and 175 miles long and relatively flat.
The Puerto Rico Trench was formed when the North American plate and Caribbean plate slid past each other along the Earth's crust. The mapping expedition was done to try to better understand plate tectonics of the area in case a major event and tsunami happen in the future.
The Java Trench, or Sunda Trench is located just off the southwest coast of Indonesia. It is a continuation of the Sunda Plate where the Australian plate meets the Eurasian plate underneath the Indian Ocean. Oceana.org states the Ninetyeast Mountain Range is located nearby, an underwater mountain chain that stretches for 3,100 miles.
The deep trench was part of the fault system that caused the massive earthquake and tsunami Dec. 26, 2004, that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia and surrounding countries. The Java Trench is 1,600 miles long and is an average depth of 23,377 feet. It is the deepest place located in the Indian Ocean.
William Browning is a research librarian.