10 Deepest Points of the Ocean

January 30, 2024

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The Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean

Roughly 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, the vast majority of which is held in its oceans. Containing around 1.35 billion km³ of water, the world’s oceans can reach great depths — deeper, in fact, than the world’s highest mountains!

The deepest parts of the ocean — sea trenches — are caused when tectonic plates shift and bend the seafloor to create long, narrow V-shaped holes. In these trenches, there is little to no sunlight, temperatures are just above freezing, and the pressure is immense. However, some weird and wonderful species have the resilience to survive in them.

Because it is so dark and cold and the pressure is so great, it is difficult to measure the deepest points of the world’s oceans. However, oceanographers are able to make accurate estimations using remotely operated underwater vehicles and specialized equipment that takes measurements based on sonar. While there is still a great deal to discover about the depths of our oceans, based on what scientists understand at present, we’ve compiled a list of the ten deepest points.

Where are the deepest points of the ocean?

Based on current findings, the ten deepest parts of the world’s oceans are as follows:

RankDeepest PointLocationDepth (m)Depth (ft)
1Challenger DeepPacific Ocean10,92035,830
2Horizon DeepPacific Ocean10,82035,500
3Emden DeepPacific Ocean10,54034,580
4Scholl DeepPacific Ocean10,04732,963
5Izu-Ogasawara TrenchPacific Ocean9,81032,190
6Kuril-Kamchatka TrenchPacific Ocean9,60031,496
7Planet DeepPacific Ocean9,14029,990
8Brownson DeepAtlantic Ocean8,38027,490
9Meteor DeepAtlantic Ocean8,26527,116
10Richards DeepPacific Ocean8,05526,427

1. Challenger Deep

Depth: 10,920 m (5,830 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean
Oceanic Trench: Mariana Trench

The deepest part of the Earth’s surface is Challenger Deep, which has a depth of almost 11,000 meters. 

Like most of the deep points on this list, Challenger Deep is located in the Pacific Ocean, in an area known as the Ring of Fire. It can be found in the Mariana Trench between Australia and Japan, about 200 kilometers from the Mariana Islands.

The 2,550-km, 69-km-wide crescent-shaped trench was formed by the convergence of numerous tectonic plates. 

Just two people have reached the deepest part of Challenger Deep: Oceanographers Don Walsh and Jaques Piccard. They reached a depth of 10,916 meters in a deep-diving research vessel in 1960.

As mentioned, the water pressure at the bottom of trenches is immense, and in the Mariana Trench, it is more than 1,071 times the pressure at sea level. Despite these intense conditions, several marine creatures have been discovered in the trench, including flatfish, shrimps, crustaceans, and snailfish.  As exploration continues, scientists predict that additional marine species will be discovered.

2. Horizon Deep

Depth: 10,820 m (35,500 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean
Oceanic Trench: Tonga Trench

The second-deepest point of the world’s oceans is Horizon Deep, with a depth of just over 10,800 meters.

It is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean in the Tonga Trench, which has a width of about 80 kilometers and stretches for 2,500 kilometers in a northeasterly direction from New Zealand’s North Island to the island of Tonga. 

The Tonga Trench was formed when the Pacific tectonic plate moved below the Tonga tectonic plate. These plate movements were so great they caused large volcanoes in the Mariana Trench and Japan Trench.

Named after the vessel that discovered it in 1952, Horizon Deep, with its exceptionally steep slopes and ridges, is one of the most dramatic deep points ever seen.

Temperatures in the Horizon Deep are about 34 degrees Fahrenheit and again it is dark with immense pressure. Roundworms are among the creatures that have been found to withstand its harsh conditions.

3. Emden Deep

Depth: 10,540 m (34,580 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean
Oceanic Trench: Philippine Trench

Emden Deep is located in the Philippine Trench in the Philippine Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. Also referred to as Mindanao Trench, the Philippine Trench is 1,320 kilometers long and just 30 kilometers wide. It is known as a submarine trench due to its long, narrow size. 

The trench was formed when the Eurasian Plate and Philippine Plate collided approximately eight to nine million years ago, making it one of the youngest trenches in the Philippine Sea. Some of the other Philippine Sea trenches include Cotabato Trench, East Luzon Trench, Manila Trench, Negros Trench, and Sulu Trench. However, because of its depth, the Philippine Trench is the most renowned, with scientists believing it was the planet’s deepest point until 1970.

Little is known about the marine life in the Philippine Trench, but deep-sea explorers have discovered sea anemones, sea cucumbers, mollusks, crustaceans, and bristle worms living there.

4. Scholl Deep

Depth: 10,047 m (32,963 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean
Oceanic Trench: Kermadec Trench

Fourth on the list of deepest points of the world’s oceans is Scholl Deep, which has a depth of just over 10,000 meters. 

Again, it is located in the Pacific Ocean, but in the Kermadec Trench, which stretches for about 1,000 kilometers from the Louisville Seamount Chain (Louisville Ridge) to the Hikurangi Plateau. 

Kermadec Trench was formed when the Indo-Australian Plate and Pacific Plate collided, and the Pacific Plate was forced underneath the Indo-Australian Plate. 

As with all deep-sea explorations, reaching the deepest part of an ocean trench is extremely dangerous, as highlighted by an unmanned research submarine in the Kermadec Trench, which imploded at a depth of 9,990 kilometers due to extreme pressure.

Interestingly, though, marine life can survive in this high-pressure environment in the form of corals, bacteria, worms, mussels, shrimps, snailfish, pearlfish, and a giant crustacean measuring 13 inches in length.

5. Izu-Ogasawara Trench

Depth: 9,810 m (32,190 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean

Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, the Izu-Ogasawara Trench stretches from Japan to the northern section of the Mariana Trench. A combination of the Izu Trench to the north and the Bonin Trench to the south, it is also known as the Izu-Bonin Trench. It is also an extension of the Japan Trench.

When the Philippine Sea Plate and Pacific Plate collided, the Izu-Ogasawara Trench was created, along with the Izu and Bonin Islands.

Scientists recently found the deepest fish ever recorded underwater in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench. The unknown snailfish species was captured swimming at a depth of 8,336 meters from an autonomous deep ocean vessel.

6. Kuril-Kamchatka Trench

Depth: 9,600 m (31,496 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean

The Kuril-Kamchatka Trench is found off the coast of Kamchatka in Russia, close to the Kuril Islands, and is responsible for a large portion of intense underwater volcanic activity in the area.

It was formed when the Okhotsk Plate and Pacific Plate collided in the late Cretaceous period (100.5 to 66 million years ago), resulting in a trench with steep slopes that give the appearance of staircases and terraces. 

Bristle worms and mollusks are two of the most commonly found species that inhabit the deep-sea waters of the Kuril-Kamachatka Trench.

7. Planet Deep

Depth: 9,140 m (29,990 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean
Oceanic Trench: New Britain Trench

Located in the New Britain Trench in the Solomon Sea — which forms part of the Pacific Ocean — Planet Deep was created by the colliding of the Solomon Sea and Pacific tectonic plates.

According to deep-sea explorations, there’s a vibrant mix of organisms in the New Britain Trench, including anemones, spoonworms, and unnamed burrowing creatures with what appear to be tongues.

8. Brownson Deep

Depth: 8,380 m (27,490 ft)
Location: Atlantic Ocean
Oceanic Trench: Puerto Rico Trench

Separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea, Brownson Deep is the first deep point on this list that isn’t in the Pacific Ocean. Brownson Deep — the deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean — can be found in the 800-kilometer-long Puerto Rico Trench.

The Puerto Rico Trench was formed when the North American Plate was forced beneath the smaller Caribbean plate, and since then, the trench has contributed to many earthquakes and tsunamis in the region. Scientists are worried about the impact a large earthquake would have on the island of Puerto Rico.

Efforts for a complete mapping of the Puerto Rico Trench have been ongoing since the first exploration by robotic vehicle in 1964.

In terms of marine life, around 100 species of fish, 50 species of deep-sea coral, and hundreds of other invertebrates have been recorded by America’s Ocean Exploration Team.

9. Meteor Deep

Depth: 8,265 m (27,116 ft)
Location: Atlantic Ocean
Oceanic Trench: South Sandwich Trench

Like Brownson Deep, Meteor Deep is situated in the Atlantic Ocean. It can be found in the South Sandwich Trench, which stretches for a massive 956 kilometers to the east of the Sandwich Islands.

The formation of the trench occurred after the tiny South Sandwich Plate collided with the South American Plate, forcing the larger plate beneath it.

South Sandwich Trench’s deepest point was discovered by explorers on a German survey ship called Meteor, hence the Meteor Deep’s name.

A variety of uncommon species have been found at the bottom of the trench, including brittle stars, snailfish, crinoids, and crustaceans.

10. Richards Deep

Depth: 8,055 m (26,427 ft)
Location: Pacific Ocean
Oceanic Trench: Peru-Chile Trench

Richards Deep is the tenth-deepest point of the world’s oceans, with a depth of just over 8,000 meters. 

It is located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, in the Peru-Chile Trench — or “Atacama Trench” — approximately 160 kilometers off the coast of Chile and Peru. The trench is around 5,900 kilometers long, 64 kilometers wide, and covers an area of roughly 590,000 square kilometers.

The Peru-Chile Trench was created with the collision of the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, and it is now the site of numerous earthquakes, which have resulted in tsunamis and landslides.

Some of the interesting marine creatures that have been discovered in the trench include three new species of snailfish, which were discovered in 2018.

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