Underwater explorer Victor Vescovo recently dove to the deepest part of the Atacama Trench off the Chilean coast.
Vescovo did the dive alongside Dr. Osvaldo Ulloa, Director of Chile’s Instituto Milenio de Oceanografia (IMO).
The maximum depth recorded at the Atacama Trench’s lowest point was approximately 8,069 meters (26,473 feet). The new deepest point identified by Vescovo and Ulloa is now an unnamed deep in the Atacama Trench, 77 nautical miles (142.6km) north of the Richards Deep.
This was the first dive in the Chilean leg of the Ring of Fire Part 2 expedition to map the seafloor in the exploration area and collect samples at various depths of the trench.
Vescovo also completed a further dive on January 23rd with Dr. Rudebn Escribano of Chile along the eastern slope of the Richards Deep, the second-deepest location in the Atacama Trench at 7,727 meters (25,351 feet).
According to Vescovo:
“It was 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.”
While Ulloa added:
“This has been a great day for Chilean science. Thanks to Victor Vescovo and Caladan Oceanic we were able to directly bear witness to the amazing geological and biological richness of the Atacama Trench. Doing exploration at Victor’s side has been a tremendous privilege and rewarding experience, and we are very thankful to him, as well as the entire team of the submersible Limiting Factor and its support vessel Pressure Drop.”