Science

The deepest point of the Southern Ocean

Researchers have published the most detailed map of the cold Southern Ocean of Antarctica to date and mapped it, including the “Factorian Depression” with a depth of 7437 meters.

The Factorian depth was discovered in 2019 by the American researcher and entrepreneur Victor Vescovo as part of his Five Deeps expedition, the purpose of which was to map the deepest points of the five oceans of the world. Vescovo personally piloted an underwater vehicle called the “Limiting Factor” to the bottom of the South Sandwich Trench of the Atlantic Ocean – an underwater canyon that covers approximately 965 kilometers of the seabed between South America and Antarctica.

The trough crosses the 60th parallel of the south, an invisible circle of latitude that is 60 degrees south of the equator, separating the Atlantic and Southern Oceans. The Vescovo expedition mapped the entire length of the South Sandwich Trench for the first time, discovering the new deepest point of the Southern Ocean south of the 60th Parallel.

Now the Factorian Depression was marked for the first time on the map of the seabed. Its depth is 7437 meters. The maximum depth of the Mariana Trench is 11,022 meters. In a new study published in the journal Scientific Data, an international team of researchers has included the Factorian Trench in an extensive new map of seamounts, canyons and plateaus of the Southern Ocean.

The new map is based on more than 1,200 sets of sonar data collected mostly by scientific vessels from around the world and icebreakers that cut their way. The seabed map covers more than 48 million square kilometers of the seabed, which is more than twice the size of the first IBCSO map of the region, which was released in 2013. But no matter how big the new map may seem, it accurately describes only 23% of the area of the region. So scientists still have a lot of work to do.


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