Researchers Plan Voyage Near the Bottom of the Sea

Geosciences Professor To Study Exposed Rocks in the Mariana Trench

June 18, 2008

An undersea voyage next month will give explorers at UT Dallas  a chance to study rocks exposed in the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest geologic formation.

Dr. Robert Stern
Dr. Robert J. Stern

Dr. Robert J. Stern, UT Dallas professor of geosciences, will meet graduate student Julia Ribeiro and other U.S. and Japanese geoscientists for the two-week research cruise in mid-July.

The team will use the Japanese Yokosuka research vessel and Shinkai 6500 submarine on the two-week trip in the Western Pacific near Guam.

The team plans seven dives in the Shinkai 6500 to study and sample the rocks exposed on the sea floor around the trench. The voyage continues studies that the research team started in 2006.

The Mariana Trench contains the Earth’s deepest point — known as the Challenger Deep — at a depth of nearly 7 miles.

The trench also marks an important plate tectonic boundary, or subduction zone, where the Pacific Plate dives beneath the Philippine Sea Plate.

Only the upper 4 miles of the Trench sea floor can be reached by the Shinkai, the deepest-diving manned submersible presently in service.

U.S. participation in the research cruise is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.


Media contacts: Brandon Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, Brandon.Webb@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, news center@utdallas.edu

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Shinkai submarine

The Shinkai 6500 is capable of exploring the upper 4 miles of the Mariana Trench. The submarine is the deepest-diving manned submersible presently in service.

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