Sunda trench, also known as Java Trench, is another oceanic trench located in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia. It is located at the southern edge of Java Ridge, along the northern part of Sunda Shelf.
Every trench has some distinct features, and the Sunda trench is no different. Want to know more? Read the article.
The Sunda Trench is the deepest area in the Indian Ocean. It is formed when the Australian-Capricorn tectonic plates dive beneath the Eurasian plate.
The Lesser Sunda Islands to Java to the Sumatra’s southern coast to the Andaman Islands—this is the trench that separates Indo-Australian Plate and Eurasian Plate. The trench is one of a group of oceanic trenches that circle Australia and is also considered part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Scientists speculated in 2005 that a tsunami might occur within the next decade due to seismic activity in the Java Trench region from 2004. To mitigate this risk, nations have set up a tsunami alert system along the coast of the Indian Ocean.
People have questions about the parameters of the Sunda trench.
The Sunda or Java trench is 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) long and 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide. It starts from Makassar Strait off the southwestern coast of Sulawesi and ends near the Andaman Islands.
The depth of the Sunda trench varies in different places, but at its deepest part, it reaches 23,920 feet (7,290 meters). This makes it one of the deepest places in the Indian Ocean. It has an average depth of around 5-7 km.
At the bottom of the Sunda trench, the water pressure is around 11,000 PSI. It is almost 1000 times as much pressure at the surface of the water. This high pressure makes it difficult for divers to explore this region, so deep-sea submersibles are used to study the trench.
The bottom of the Sunda trench is primarily composed of three types of sediment material: calcareous ooze, volcanic ash, and clayey sediments. Also, high-pressure water masses exist in this region that contains a variety of oxygen levels and salinity.
The Java Trench is a complex region where five separate morphostructural units can be distinguished: the Sumatra Fault Zone, the Sunda-Banda Shelf, the Andaman-Nicobar Trough, and the Java Ridge.
The features of the Sunda Trench are closely linked to the activeness of tectonic plates subducting in the area. The trench is also an integral part of a bigger system that encompasses basins and ridges situated around Australia. This system has formed due to the Indian-Australian plate subducting beneath the Sunda Plate.
To put it simply, there is a huge subduction zone at Sunda Trench where parts of an unsteady western plate are being forced under an eastern plate that is more stable.
Knowing more about the Sunda trench is important in order to understand the oceanic processes and dynamics in this region. The trench can help us better monitor natural hazards like earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc. It also plays an important role in climate change and ocean circulation.
It is also helping scientists to discover new biodiversity in the region. It is estimated that the trench contains more than 21,000 species of marine life, including some that are yet undiscovered.
Scientists have uncovered a wide array of fascinating marine life in the Sunda trench area, ranging from unknown species of fish to even more mysterious creatures like giant amoebas and snails. What’s more, recent studies have revealed microbial life living in oxygen-free conditions as deep as 11,000 meters down.
This suggests that even deeper parts of the trench could contain hitherto unknown forms of life. Some researchers even believe that extremophiles—organisms capable of surviving extreme conditions—could be lurking at the bottom of this sea abyss.
Moreover, some scientists suspect that certain denizens may exist far deeper than what current technology allows us to explore. For these reasons and many others, uncovering the mysteries hidden within this underwater world remains a tantalizing prospect for researchers around the globe.
To study the depths of the Sunda trench for the first time, in 2019, marine researchers led by Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University made the first crewed descent. This exploration was carried out on board the British Royal Research Ship, the James Cook.
The team deployed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) fitted with various oceanographic instruments to explore the depths of this deep-sea abyss.
The expedition’s results revealed incredibly high pressures and temperatures, as well as new species, such as shrimp and crabs dwelling in a hostile environment in the depths of the trench. It also provided a wealth of data to advance our understanding of this unique and mysterious deep-sea habitat.
- Known as the “Java Trench.”
- The deepest trench in the Indian Ocean.
- The maximum depth is around 23,920 feet (7,290 meters).
- Water pressure is around 11000 PSI.
- Humans first reached the bottom of the trench in 2019.
A trench is not a divergent boundary, but can sometimes, lead to one. A trench is the deepest part of an ocean and occurs when one tectonic plate sinks beneath its convergent partner, typically found near volcanic arcs, island arcs, and along continents.
The sinking plate will then have destruction that causes significant earthquakes and tsunamis that can be destructive on land.
Although trenches do not meet the standard definition of a divergent boundary (which involves plates moving away from each other), they can sometimes result in divergent boundaries forming eons later.
When the down going slab reaches the mantle’s hotter plastic layer, its strength decreases, leading to fractures and new/diverging lithospheric plates as a result.
A divergent plate boundary is a type of tectonic rift in which two plates are pulling apart from one another. This can occur at mid-ocean ridges, where new materials from the Earth’s mantle rise up and create a new oceanic crust.
These plates can also pull away from continent land formations, creating new landscapes and waterways in the process. In these cases, the boundaries are called continental rifts and are generally much wider than those in mid-ocean ridge settings.
Examples of this type of plate boundary include the East African Rift Zone and the Great Rift Valley, which stretches through Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.
Ultimately, divergent plate boundaries result in physical changes to landmasses as they continue to move away from one another over time.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the unique geological structure and marine life in the Sunda Trench. With further study, this deep-sea abyss may be able to provide us with even more valuable insights and data to help us understand our oceans better.
All in all, it is an amazing scientific wonder that deserves our attention and respect.