Researchers Explore Pacific’s Most Extreme Depths

Two UT Dallas geoscientists ventured far below the Pacific Ocean surface this week to conduct research in some of the deepest waters on Earth.

Dr. Ignacio Pujana

Dr. Pujana boards Shinkai 6500, the craft that took him about 4 miles below the waves.

Dr. Ignacio Pujana and Julia Ribeiro were part of a U.S.-Japanese team of scientists aboard the research vessel Yokosuka. 

The researchers were using the manned submersible Shinkai 6500 to study igneous rocks exposed in the inner wall of the Mariana Trench between Guam and the Challenger Deep.  The latter is  the deepest surveyed point in any ocean.

Dr. Pujana journeyed 6,500 meters (about 4 miles) under the waves to study rocks that were created deep below the Earth’s surface when the trench was formed about 50 million years ago.

Ms. Ribeiro’s dive studied young lava flows 5,000 meters beneath the sea. The samples she collected will be studied as part of her doctoral research at UT Dallas.

Dr. Pujana, a senior lecturer in geosciences, teaches oceanography at UT Dallas.   He is the first Argentinian scientist to dive in Shinkai 6500. 

Shinkai 6500 holds three people at a time – two pilots and one scientist. It is owned and operated by the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center.

A board shows the details of Julia Ribeiro’s dive to study lava flows 3 miles under the water.


The exploration craft Shinkai 6500 is prepared for an exploratory dive.

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