The Mariana Trench was first pinpointed and surveyed in 1951 by the
British Survey ship Challenger II., which gave its name for the
trench's deepest point, "The Challenger Deep".
The challenger deep is located near the southwestern extremity of the
Mariana Trench and was first explored in 1960 by Swiss scientist
Jacques Piccard & US Navy Lt. Donald Walsh in bathyscaph "Trieste", a
US Navy owned submersible manned vessel (Designed by Jacques Piccard's
father Auguste) which set a record by diving to a
depth of 10, 900 meters (35,810 feet).
The scientist had the brilliant idea to use 70 tons of gasoline to
fill the 50 foot long sub's floats, knowing that gasoline was lighter
than water, which in turn was used to flood the submersible's air
tanks, enabling its descent. As the depth increased, the
gasoline compressed, which reduced the sub's buoyancy and accelerated
its progress until about 5 hours later, the Trieste had reached the
ocean floor, withstanding over 16,000 pounds of pressure per square
The Challenger expedition gave us our first glimpse of deep ocean
basins and other characteristics of the ocean floor. In addition
to exploring the Mariana Trench, the Challenger gathered important
data on the features and species of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian
oceans, covering nearly 130,000 kilometers, (approx. 71,000 nautical
miles). Nearly 5000 new species of sea creatures were discovered
during the 4 year expedition.
In March of 1995, the Japanese unmanned submarine Kaiko was used to
conduct further research deep within the Mariana Trench. The
Kaiko is a sophisticated vessel with a highly accurate positioning
system, allowing scientists to gather important data without the need
to endanger a human diver.
NC Museum of Natural Sciences Staff explore the deep ocean with NOAA
Deep Sea Exploration: Submarine Volcanoes and Hydrothermal Vents
The Mariana Trench was first pinpointed and surveyed
in 1951 by the British Survey ship Challenger II., which gave
its name for the trench's deepest point, "The Challenger Deep".
The Exploration of the challenger Deep by Swiss
scientist Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lt. Donald Walsh set the record
for deep-diving for having reached 10, 900 meters (35,810 feet).