Scientists recorded the noises at the deepest part of the world’s largest ocean, and they didn’t expect to hear what they did.
The sea is a scary enough place as it is, with its unexplored areas and dark depths and terrifying creatures, but now scientists have offered up another thing to be afraid of – the noises of the ocean.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory placed a titanium-encased hydrophone – a device which records sound – on the deepest part of the ocean floor, in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.
National Geographic describes the Mariana Trench, explaining:
The Mariana Trench is a crescent-shaped scar in the Earth’s crust that measures more than 1,500 miles long and 43 miles wide on average.
The distance between the surface of the ocean and the trench’s deepest point, the Challenger Deep, is nearly 7 miles.
If Mount Everest were dropped into the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be more than a mile underwater.
So basically it’s pretty damn deep.
The device recorded the sounds in the ocean over a period of three weeks, and scientists were shocked at what they heard.
Listen to some of the recording here:
Chief scientist on the project, Robert Dziak, explained in a statement that they expected there to be silence that deep in the ocean, but were met instead with the sound of earthquakes and typhoons, as well as ships.
Could this suggest the story The Journey To The Centre Of The Earth is actually fact, and there’s a whole ecosystem just on the other side of the ocean floor?
Probably not. I’ll leave the theorising to the scientists.
You would think that the deepest part of the ocean would be one of the quietest places on Earth.
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, as well as the distinct moans of baleen whales and the overwhelming clamor of a category 4 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.
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.
The study was performed with the hope of determining noise levels, which would allow scientists to see if levels rose in the future.
After analysing the sounds, the scientists were able to separate the natural noise from the manmade noise.
We recorded a loud magnitude 5.0 earthquake that took place at a depth of about 10 kilometers (or more than six miles) in the nearby ocean crust. Since our hydrophone was at 11 kilometers, it actually was below the earthquake, which is really an unusual experience.
The sound of the typhoon was also dramatic, although the cacophony from big storms tends to be spread out and elevates the overall noise for a period of days.
So it seems that no matter how far you go to escape the noise of life, it will find you. Even seven miles under the ocean. Creepy.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.