Into the abyss... James Cameron sets sail on voyage to bottom of the sea

Titanic director set to become first person in 50 years to reach foot of the Mariana Trench

The objects that inspired some of his greatest cinematographic successes lie deep below the waves, but now, the film director James Cameron plans to explore even further into the watery unknown. Today he will set out for the deepest point of the world's oceans in a submersible in which he will hardly be able to move.

Click HERE to view graphic

The director of Titanic and The Abyss will attempt to lead only the second manned expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, seven miles below the surface of the western Pacific Ocean.

Cameron has enlisted many of the teams he used to make his films for help in his mission; his project manager, John Garvin, is a former star of the West End musical Buddy who gave up acting to pursue a career as a diving instructor.

The nine-hour descent will be both lonely and cramped. His bright green, one-man submersible – the Challenger Deep – weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 7m long, but has an internal compartment measuring only 109cm across, the width of a shower cubicle.

Its small diameter means the 6ft 2in Cameron will barely be able to move his arms and will have to keep his legs bent. He has even had to take up yoga to be able to prepare his body for the tight fit.

Discomfort is a price he is prepared to pay, however. "Every single dive, I'm going to see something no one's ever seen before," said Cameron. "I'm going to do my best to image it, light it properly, bring it back in 3D – grab samples if I can, grab rocks if I can.

"We are there to do science, but we are also there to take the average person who only imagines these things and show them what it is really like."

When he arrives in the trench – which, weather permitting, he hopes will be today – Cameron will be boldly going where very few indeed have gone before, and with good reason. The pressure will be equivalent to 1.1 tonnes per square centimetre – a little less than the weight of two small cars.

"More people have been on the Moon than have been to the deepest part of the ocean," said Dr Carol Turley of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. "There is little knowledge and it is exciting to think of what might be found."

The only previous manned dive to the bottom of the trench, 35,814 feet below sea level, was led by former US Navy captain Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard, in 1960.

Through the cracked window of their submersible, they reported seeing a dark brown "diatomaceous ooze" covering the sea floor, along with shrimp and some fish that appeared to resemble flounder and sole.

And while the director said he hopes to observe the trench floor, the amount of wildlife he is expected to find there is extremely limited. An unmanned mission in 2009 found only six animal species, including worms, sea cucumbers and crustaceans.

The Mariana Trench lies off the island of Guam. A small valley named Challenger Deep is the deepest part of the ocean, and Cameron's target.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea