Guam – China is sending an expedition to make a dive in the Marianas Trench.
China’s state-run news agency, Xinhau, announced that the team of scientists has already departed China’s shores for the Trench. Their dive is expected to take place sometime in mid-June or early July.
It was just this past March that Filmmaker James Cameron made history with the first solo dive to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Marianas Trench. However, according to Xinhau, the Chinese team plans to dive to a depth of only 23,000 feet. While Cameron’s dive reached the bottom, 35,756 feet down.
Like Cameron’s dive (sponsored by National Geographic and Rolex), the Chinese expedition is a scientific one, with three “oceanauts” piloting the sub together. A team of nearly a hundred scientists will support the oceanauts and samples will be collected from the seafloor during the dive.
If all goes well, the dive will prove that the Chinese submersible is capable of reaching most of the world’s seabeds. The sub has already completed 17 other dives in the South China Sea, at shallower depths, last summer.
Its not yet clear just where in the trench the team from China will make their dive.
President George W. Bush declared the Marianas Trench a National Marine Monument in 2008 requiring anyone with plans to dive areas of the trench within U.S. boundaries to get the permission of the monument staff first.
Meanwhile UOG Marine Lab Director Laurie Raymundo says Scripps scientists are still studying the samples collected from Cameron’s dive and information on their studies won’t be available for awhile yet.