Rumbles in the deep: Oregon researchers record cacophony at 36,000 feet below sea level

A team of oceanographers headquartered in Newport recently sent a special microphone deep into the Pacific Ocean’s famed Mariana Trench, nearly seven miles below the ocean’s surface, and the results were surprising.

It’s noisy down there.

“In theory it should be one of the quietest places in the ocean,” Robert Dziak, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research oceanographer and chief scientist on the project said of the Challenger Deep region of the Mariana Trench.

Instead, the small research team based atOregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, heard a variety of noises and captured what they believe are the first recordings produced from the deepest-known area of the Earth’s oceans.

After analyzing the audio recordings, researchers identified several earthquakes, the moan of baleen whales, a typhoon and quite a bit of noise from ship traffic 36,000 feet above the specially designed microphone anchored to the trench’s seafloor.

Dziak pitched the $100,000 project two years ago, with the goal of establishing a baseline for ambient noise inside the Mariana Trench.