Exploring the Mysterious Ocean Zones: How Deep is the Titanic?

Submersible Titan wreckage was discovered close to the sunken ship in the Atlantic Ocean, suggesting that it may have been lost during an excursion to the Titanic’s remains.

At 2.5 miles below the surface, the Titanic is located at water pressures that would kill an unprotected human being. Still, there are likely other, much deeper regions of the ocean that have yet to be discovered.

Exploring the Mysterious Ocean Zones

Exploring the Mysterious Ocean Zones

According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the average depth of the world’s oceans is 12,080 feet, which is almost as high as Mount Fuji’s is tall. The ocean has only been partially explored.

There are different zones in the ocean’s depths. The euphotic zone, also known as the “sunlight zone,” allows plants like phytoplankton and macroalgae to flourish and extends to a depth of roughly 656 feet, as reported by NOAA.

The Yellow Sea, which separates China and Korea, is contained wholly inside this zone. If the water level in this area reached 305 feet, the Statue of Liberty would be completely submerged.

The dysphotic zone, or “twilight zone,” occurs between 656 and 3,280 feet and is characterized by a sharp drop in surface illumination with increasing depth.

That’s how deep the Baltic and Red Seas go, by the way. In this area, both the Burj Khalifa, at 2,716.5 feet, and the Eiffel Tower, at 1,083 feet, would be completely submerged.

The aphotic zone begins at an altitude of roughly 3,280 feet and extends outward in all directions. The “midnight zone” begins at around 13,000 feet and the abyss begins at around 19,685 feet within this zone. The hadal zone begins at this depth.

The debris of the Titanic can be found in the North Atlantic at a depth of around 12,500 feet, which is technically the midnight zone. If you stacked up nine Empire State Buildings, you’d still only reach that depth.

The aphotic zone, where only biologically produced light can be seen, extends to the depths of the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Red Seas, as well as the rest of the world’s seas. There’s less to eat and less life down there, but dead whales and sharks have been known to get it this far.

According to NOAA, the Mariana Trench is the deepest area of the world’s seas at over 36,070 feet, or nearly seven miles deep, in the hadal zone. The trench can be found in the Pacific Ocean, not far from Japan.

Even fewer people have ventured to the Mariana Trench, and Hamish Harding, who perished on the Titan submersible en route to the Titanic debris, was one of them. In 2021, he made history by navigating the ocean floor for a distance of 2.5 miles, the farthest ever traveled by a crewed craft in the deepest section of the ocean.

NOAA reports that life can persist in the trench despite pressures of 8 tons per square inch. In 2005, scientists found single-celled organisms called foraminifera in the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the trench.

Between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, in the Puerto Rico Trench, a fish was observed at a depth of 27,460 feet.

How Deep is the Titanic?

According to NOAA’s National Ocean Service, the imperceptible pressure at sea level is around 14.7 pounds per square inch. Hydrostatic pressure, the force of a liquid on an object, increases as the depth of a dive increases, and this can be felt by the eardrums. Barometric pressure is measured in atmospheres, and one atmosphere is equal to an increase of 33 feet.

Whales, for example, are able to withstand high pressures and temperatures at great depths. Ahmed Gabr, after years of training, successfully dove to a depth of roughly 1,090 feet in 2014. About 470 psi of pressure can be expected at that depth.

According to NOAA, a maximum depth of 130 feet is safe for recreational scuba divers.

Very few ships can endure the intense pressure found at great depths. Victor Vescovo, an American explorer, and his colleague, Harding, delved into the Challenger Deep using a $48 million submersible.

A former worker at OceanGate Expeditions, the company that constructed the Titan, claims the submersible is only designed to endure pressures up to 1,300 meters (4,265 ft). After being let go from OceanGate, former submersible pilot David Lochridge filed a lawsuit against the firm in 2018, claiming the Titan would dive to depths of around 13,000 feet—a feat no sub with a carbon fiber shell had ever accomplished.

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Tragic Depths: The Titanic Submersible Disaster

On Sunday, a Titan with five passengers set off from Newfoundland, Canada, bound for the Titanic wreckage, which is located around 350 miles from the city. Titan lost communication with the researchers on the Polar Prince after about an hour and 45 minutes underwater.

Debris from the submersible was located roughly 1,600 feet from the Titanic catastrophe after a desperate and days-long search. It was discovered that a few hours into the dive, the submarine imploded, killing all five people aboard.

According to Stefano Brizzolara, co-director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Marine Autonomy and Robotics, the implosion was most likely caused by the submarine’s pressure hull failing. The pressure at a depth of 4,000 meters is 400 times that at sea level, he told CBS News. Nearly 2.5 miles, or around 13,000 feet.

He compared the pressure at this depth to that of two fully inflated automobile tires, saying that it is two hundred times greater. For navigation, Brizzolara recommends using sonar because there is no light at this level and even if a powerful light is carried down, it can only penetrate around 65 feet.

The Titan was being searched for by rescue teams using remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs. These ships can descend 13,000 feet and endure the pressure of 6,000 pounds per square inch to reach the Titanic. The Titan debris was found by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from a Canadian ship.

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