Exploration of the Puerto Rico Trench in the mid-twentieth century: Today's significance and relevance

Alan J. Jamieson, Heather A. Stewart, Paul Henry Nargeolet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The Puerto Rico Trench is a deep oceanic subduction zone that runs parallel with the northern coasts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. It is the deepest place in the Atlantic Ocean with a maximum depth of approximately 8400 m. Discovered by the HMS Challenger Expedition in 1875, the depth of the trench increased multiple times in the ensuing 100 years with the onset of sonar usage. It is perhaps unique among the world's deep trenches in that a series of unrelated but equally pioneering expeditions captured the true biological and geological characteristics of one of the deepest places in the world, observations that are still highly relevant today. Multiple deep water trawling campaigns and surveys using drop cameras and exploratory dives in a deep diving submersible provided great insight into the morphology of the trench, the types of habitat within the trench, the substrate, the food supply, and the diversity of species that inhabit these extraordinary depths. Many of these accounts are obscure and disparate, yet combined bear a remarkable similarity to recent work in other trenches. These unique and insightful accounts are collated and retold here alongside recent and comparable findings to contextualise these discoveries, prevent them from being forgotten, and keep the efforts of those involved to remain relevant as we continue to explore the deepest places of the world's oceans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100719
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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