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The bottom of Earth’s oceans isn’t as simple a concept as many of us may think. Like the surface of the earth, our underwater world has an amazingly vibrant topography. Think of the difference between the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of Mount Everest—now think even bigger. The average ocean depth is approximately 3,688 meters (12,100 feet), but it goes a lot deeper than that.
How deep do the oceans go? Well, there is an area called the Mariana Trench (the geographic feature, not the band) located near Guam in the Pacific which is one of the deepest areas of the planet. At the bottom of the Mariana Trench there is a hole that is even deeper (a hole within a hole) called the Challenger Deep. If you’re ready to broaden your mind, here are 15 facts you didn’t know about the deepest part of the earth.
Sometime in Earth’s very, very distant past two tectonic plates collided, forming what is now known as the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Located east of the Mariana Islands, within the Trench’s darkness you’ll find (or at least read about, since getting there is a major issue) Challenger Deep, the deepest, darkest and one of the least explored regions on the planet.
For all of its inhospitable gloominess, Challenger Deep still manages to be home for a variety of species of creatures and micro-organisms. Humans could never survive Challenger Deep’s intense pressure; roughly one thousand-times the atmospheric pressure found at sea level.
Since 2009 the Mariana Trench has been protected by the United States as part of its Marianas Trench Marine National Monument initiative, while those seeking a permit to explore Challenger Deep must deal with the Federated States of Micronesia.
1. The Challenger Deep is 10,994 meters (36,070 feet) deep, and it is officially the deepest point on earth.
The Challenger Deep is so deep that if you were to put Mount Everest in the bottom of the hole, the peak of the mountain would still be 1.93 kilometers (1.2 miles) below sea level. The depth is so large that the tiny percentage margin of error involved in measuring it has led to variations of hundreds of meters of difference between the findings of some expeditions.