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Atacama Trench: Humans travel to the Atacama Trench, an 8,000-meter-deep biodiversity hotspot in the Pacific |  Science

Atacama Trench: Humans travel to the Atacama Trench, an 8,000-meter-deep biodiversity hotspot in the Pacific | Science

Chilean scientist Oswaldo Ulova pays homage to the ‘Limited Factor’ chick before hatching on a Chilean beach last January.Galaton Oceanic / Millennium Institute of Oceanography

On the so-called submarine Finite factor, A small spherical titanium device that does not allow you to stretch your legs, is the first time humans have observed with their own eyes what is happening at a depth of more than 8,000 meters off the coast of Chile. It is the Atacama Trench, one of the 30 largest moats in the world, but the largest. It is the deepest point in the eastern Pacific. This was done by two Chilean scientists, Oswaldo Ulova and Ruben Escripano, respectively, director and deputy director of the Millennium Institute of Oceanography and two academics. Conceptual University.

The trip took place last January Victor Veskovo, an American researcher and president Climbed the highest peaks on the planet and reached both poles, a few years ago, the decision-maker The first person to reach the lowest point of the five oceans. Veskovo funded and participated in the trip; The combination of intense research and science opens the door to a hitherto completely unknown world.

“The crust of the planet is made up of many plates like a puzzle. When two plates collide, a cavity is formed, which is a cavity. That is, the trenches are the result of a collision between two plates. ”Shortly after completing the 12-day voyage, two dives were made, each lasting 10 hours (January 20 and 23).

The bottom of the Atacama Trench is viewed from a 'Limited Factor' skylight
The bottom of the Atacama Trench is viewed from a ‘Limited Factor’ skylightGalaton Oceanic / Millennium Institute of Oceanography

The Atacama Trench is a dense plateau, located between Nazca and a continental plateau, South America. “One sinks under the other. This is exactly what is happening on the Chilean coast. This margin extends from Ecuador to the far south of Chile to Eisenhower. ” , Which produces the largest earthquake ever known, i.e. occurred in Valdivia south of Chile in 1960. These properties have attracted the attention of researchers around the world for decades.

Beyond the Chilean peninsula of Majils, on the northern coast of Antofagasta, a ship with 45 people sailed about 160 kilometers at sea. On the first diving, Veskova and Ulloa descended. “It took us three and a half hours to get there, but it was a very quiet trip. From the moment someone started to dive, we were only interrupted by occasional contact with the surface,” explains the academic and marine biologist.

Overcoming the pressure, they reached a depth of 8,069 meters. “It was a very strong feeling to go down and see what was there for the first time. The first thing we saw was the great life that was there. We knew what kind of creature we could find, but the first thing that came to greet us was the incredible amount of sea cucumbers,” Ulloa says of this human achievement. . “What we are learning is that this will be the largest biodiversity and life trench in the world, the most productive,” he added.

Below, they sailed for hours on the sand and sedimentary plains, where they began to board until they had crossed a wall. Finite factor, A kind of model car Izetta Mid-twentieth century. “We began to look at the geological structure, the broken rocks, the valleys. This was something I did not expect. I told Victor an analogy that popped into my mind: it’s like flying over the Andes Mountains, where you have ice, but at the same time just rock. In the meantime, microbial communities stay. The colored ribbons were similar and it was wonderful to see them, ”asserts the scientist who works in microbiology.

The submarine, made in Florida, USA, specifically for Wescovo’s exploitation, has three small windows that allow crews to see, but the field of view is limited. The engine, therefore, has high-definition cameras that record in very large fields. They are images that scientists carefully analyze and they allow for many discoveries. This is what Ullo wants, whoever took the lead in 2018 Draft atacamexFrom Concepcion University And this Millennium Institute of Oceanography, This was the first time an unmanned vehicle had been able to photograph the bottom of the Atacama Trench. This is what opened the door to this new Wesco voyage, recognizing partners with scientific experience in the study of sea trenches in the Chilean community.

Last January, Chilean scientist Oswaldo Ulloa posed for a photo with Victor Vescovo at a depth of 8,069 meters in the Atacama Trench on the 'Limiting Factor'.
Last January, Chilean scientist Oswaldo Ulloa posed for a photo with Victor Vescovo at a depth of 8,069 meters in the Atacama Trench on the ‘Limiting Factor’.Personal file

But it is not one. According to the Chilean doctor, “Obviously one thing is to see something in the video and another, very different thing, to experience it through the senses while browsing. It was an unforgettable, extraordinary, magical experience.

Until the American embarked on his adventures under the sea, only three people had sunk into the sea, all of which went to the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. It happened in 1960, and then film director James Cameron did it, and he only went down in 2012. But in no case was the submarine reused, unlike the Wesco Convertible, which made it possible to dive again and again. High navigation technology and space too. Along with submersible instruments, the researchers were able to use three autonomous modules with video cameras, which were not attached to the ship, and had systems for receiving different types of samples.

Ulloa says: “When you come into an unknown world, ask yourself simple questions that you can imagine. ? How dependent are they on the food that falls on them from the surface? Because of the lack of light, they need to get nutrition and energy from somewhere.

The Finite factor It will no longer travel in the Chilean seas as it has traveled to other seas. But it also leaves questions and broader paths of scientific research through images of never-explored parts of the planet. “This is an unopened treasure,” says a Chilean scientist who grew up fascinated by Jules Verne’s tales and the mysteries of the ocean.

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