We are currently sampling station 1, our deepest point of the cruise track. The ocean floor lies 5,500 meters below the ship – that’s over 3 miles. A round trip for our water samplers at this depth takes 6 hours and our total time on station will be close to three whole days. The map above shows our current position; we are situated right over the Peru-Chili trench. The trench is a subduction zone; the western Nazca plate is being subducted under the South American plate creating depths up to 8,000 meters at some locations. Pressure in the ocean increases with depth; more overlying water means more weight pressing down from above. Based on the capabilities of our sampling equipment to withstand this pressure, 5,500 meters is as deep as we can go. On-board chemical analysis is in full swing, hoping for some interesting discoveries near the trench!