Surprise find at bottom of ocean

IT’S 2550 km long and up to 11,000 m deep, and a lot remains unknown about the alien world that lies within the Mariana Trench.


Located off the coast of Guam in the western area of the North Pacific Ocean,the massive expanse of water is home to the Challenger Deep Trench, officially the deepest place on the planet and one that few people have ever been able to reach. And now, in what’s been billed as a first, a team of researchers seeking to eavesdrop on the ocean floor have made a remarkable discovery in its depths.

The team of experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Oregon State University and the US Coast Guard had expected to hear very little when they plunged a titanium-encased hydrophone (an underwater microphone) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep for three weeks.But instead of being greeted with a sea of silence they were shocked to find that both natural and man-made sounds permeated to the very bottom of the ocean.

“You would think that the deepest part of the ocean would be one of the quietest places on Earth,” NOAA research oceanographer and chief scientist on the project Robert Dziak said. “Yet there really is almost constant noise from both natural and man-made sources. The ambient sound field at Challenger Deep is dominated by the sound of earthquakes, both near and far was well as the distinct moans of baleen whales and the overwhelming clamour of a category four typhoon that just happened to pass overhead.

“There was also a lot of noise from ship traffic, identifiable by the clear sound pattern the ship propellers make when they pass by.“Guam is very close to Challenger Deep and is a regional hub for container shipping with China and the Philippines.”

“It is akin to sending a deep-space probe to the outer solar system. We’re sending out a deep-ocean probe to the unknown reaches of inner space.”

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