First-ever crewed dive into Atacama Trench

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First-ever crewed dive into Atacama Trench

Wed, 04/05/2022 - 14:02
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Caladan Oceanic conducted the first-ever crewed dive to the deepest point of the Atacama Trench (Peru-Chile), the deepest trench in the southeastern Pacific. The maximum depth recorded at the Atacama Trench's lowest point was 8,069m.

On 21 January 2022, two men dived the first-ever crewed dive to the deepest point of the Atacama Trench, the deepest trench in the south­eastern Pacific.

This feat saw explorer Victor Vescovo, Founder of Caladan Oceanic, and Osvaldo Ulloa from the Millennium Institute of Oceanography (IMO) de­scending to 8,069m below sea level, in the submersible Limiting Factor. This dive was the first in the Chilean leg of the Ring of Fire Pt 2 (2022) expedition.

Vescovo described the experi­ence as a great privilege to pilot the first human descent to the bottom of the Atacama Trench with Dr Ulloa: “Being able to glide along the seafloor

for three hours, personally investigating interesting points with someone who has studied the area for much of their career, was just fantastic.”

“Together, we witnessed some amaz­ing evidence of what appears to be more examples of chemosynthesis in the world’s deep ocean trenches. Here, however, we saw long bacterial tendrils coming off of rock faces that never see any sunlight, and obtain their energy from the minerals and gases seeping from the rocks, surrounded by a freezing seawater envi­ronment. Just extraordi­nary,” he added.

The expedition’s objective was to conduct extensive bathymetric map­ping of the seafloor in the exploration area and to collect samples at vari­ous depths of the trench. By mapping the seafloor, it would be possible to determine where to install sensors for IMO’s future IDOOS (Integrated Deep Ocean Observing System) project.

This project would establish the first observation system anchored in the deep ocean along Chile’s coast to study the structure and temporal variability of the area’s physical geo­chemical and biological conditions.

Subsequent missions include warship search expeditions to the Midway and Samar oceanic battlefields, the first-ever human-occupied dives to the bottom of the Yap and Pa­lau trenches, a scientific dive to the deepest point of the ocean, Chal­lenger Deep, as well as dives to the Manila, Ryukyu, Izu-Ogasawara, Ja­pan and Kuril-Kamchatka trenches in cooperation with key scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).

However, first things first.

Since March 2022, according to Ves­covo's Twitter feed, both the expedi­tion ship Pressure Drop and the Limit­ing Factor submersible have been undergoing refit and maintenance to prepare them for these upcoming missions. The expedition is expected to resume in April.

About Caladan Oceanic

Caladan Oceanic is a private com­pany dedicated to the advancement of undersea technology and support­ing expeditions to increase the un­derstanding of the oceans. Founder Victor Vescovo, a former Commander in the US Navy, has long had a pas­sion for exploration and has summited the highest peak on all seven of the world’s continents including Mount Everest, and skied at least 100km to both the North and South Poles.