How Deep Is The Pacific Ocean?

To answer this question, many people turn to something that can be measured and compared. For example, encyclopedias and geography texts show the tallest mountain in the world to be Mauna Kea in the Hawaiian Islands. It is several thousand feet taller than the more visible Mount Everest. Since the bottom of Mauna Kea is on the floor of the ocean, records show that the Pacific is more than 33,000 feet deep at that point.

the-pacific-oceanBut there’s more. Many people are also aware of a unique geographical structure called the Mariana Trench, which itself is more than 36,000 feet deep and covered by the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Not only is this ocean very deep, it is also the largest of the bodies of water on the earth. For general purposes, geographers and other scientists consider the Pacific Ocean to be 12,999 meters deep, in the Mariana Trench.

How did men and women of the sciences get this knowledge? According to historical records and scientific narratives, a survey ship from Great Britain was able to find the deepest point as early as 1951. A few years later a small submarine-like device (submersible) was launched by the United States Navy for the purpose of exploring the trench. The submersible had more than seven miles of water above it when it settled on a spot 35,838 feet deep.

People also like to give this depth some perspective by stating that if Mount Everest could be set into the Mariana Trench it would not only be completely covered by water, there would be more than 5,000 feet of water above the top of the mountain. (Mt. Everest is just a bit less than 30,000 feet high.)
According to information used by universities the average depth of the Pacific Ocean is 2.8 miles (more than 4,600 meters). These same academic materials note that the depth and size of the Pacific gives its waters enormous power when that water is in motion. According to weather and scientific records, tsunamis can attain a speed of 750 km per hour, which is about the same speed as a jet. Tsunamis are massive waves caused by earthquakes under the surface.

Earlier in 2009, a group of explorers used a new type of submersible to plumb the depths of the Pacific Ocean. They reached a point 6.8 miles below the surface. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project used an unmanned craft that was actually tethered to the surface and controlled by men onboard the main ship. New technology allowed the scientists to get digital images and samples from locations in the Pacific Ocean that were unexplored before May 2009.

One energetic scientist calculated that, if there was no water in the Pacific and a person fell from the earth’s surface into the trench it would take two minutes to reach the bottom. Falling for two full minutes gives some idea of just how deep the Pacific Ocean is. It’s truly hard to imagine.

Category: Geography, Science

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