The Highest and Lowest Points on Earth (Infographic)
It's been said that humans know more about space than we do about the ground beneath us. It took 26 years for the famous satellite Voyager 1 to reach the edge of our solar system; in the same amount of time humanity reached a depth of around 7 miles (12 km) beneath the Earth's surface.
This infographic depicts the highest and lowest points on Earth (and will make you feel very, very small). Scroll down to read more information about each point.
Above Sea Level
29,035ft - Mount Everest
Nepal is home Mount Everest, the Earth’s highest point - and to put into perspective just how high it stands, consider that commercial aeroplanes fly at a height of 30,000 - 35,000 ft.
Every year, hundreds of adventurers attempt the dangerous feat of reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain. Although more than 4,000 people have conquered the mountain since Sir Edmund and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit in 1953, around 250 people have died in the attempt.
26,000 ft - Death Zone
Known as the ‘death zone’ after 26,000 ft above sea level, oxygen levels are insufficient to sustain human life. That’s why mountain climbers must carry oxygen tanks with them when they climb high peaks like Mount Everest.
22,595 ft - Ojos del Salado
The world’s highest active volcano is located in the Andes on the Argentina-Chile border. The most recent eruption occurred around 1300 years ago, however there is also some evidence of a minor ash emission in 1993.
16, 728 ft - La Rinconada
La Rinconada is the world’s highest city, located in Peru, and is a destination for only the most valiant. With few tourists and no hotel, La Rinconada is an isolated town for the 50,000 people who live there.
La Rinconada started as a gold-mining camp in a remote location, that has grown to ‘major’ city status, and stayed there. Workers in the local gold mine work for 30 days without payment, and on the 31st day they are allowed to take as much ore from the mine as they can carry. Whatever the miners are able to extract from the ore is theirs.
However, with no plumbing, sanitation or heating, La Rinconada is hard place to live. Learn more about this fascinating city here.
12,389 ft - Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is one of the most famous mountains in the world, and is a composite cone (stratovolcano) formed by violent volcanic eruptions. The symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji is a popular tourist site with more than 200,000 people climbing to the summit every year.
4,409 ft - Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, located in the Lochaber area of Scotland. It’s actually the remains of an ancient volcano which imploded millions of years ago.
An observatory and hotel were built at the summit in the 1880s, but was deserted after 20 years due to lack of funding. Their ruins can still be seen today.
2,717 ft - Burj Khalifa
Located in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building and free-standing structure in the world, with 160 stories.
Aside from holding the record for the World’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa holds 6 other World records; tallest freestanding structure; highest number of stories; highest occupied floor; highest outdoor observation deck; longest travelling elevator; and tallest service elevator.
1,004 ft - The Shard
The Shard is currently the tallest building in the European Union. Standing proudly next to the famous London Bridge in London, UK - The Shard is a “Vertical City” with multiple and different occupiers; restaurants, offices, residencies and even a hotel with 202 rooms.
Below Sea Level
3,182 ft - Bingham Canyon Mine
The Bingham Canyon Mine (also known as the Kennecott Copper Mine) is the largest open-pit mine in the world. Located in the Oquirrh Mountains outside Salt Lake City, it has been the site of a massive copper extraction since 1906.
A gaping pit 2.5 miles wide, the mine was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and is now open to tourists.
6,000ft - Depth of Grand Canyon
Okay, so the Grand Canyon isn't actually situated below sea level. In fact, the bottom of the Grand Canyon is about 1,850 ft above sea level. We've included it in the infographic to help highlight the sense of scale.
10,000 ft - Cuvier’s Beaked Whales
The Cuvier currently holds the record for the deepest dives, according to the Cascadia Research Collective. Diving deeper than the Sperm Whale (which can reach depths of around 7,300 ft), these whales have also been recorded to “hold their breath” and stay underwater for up to 38 minutes!
12,500 ft - Wreck of the RMS Titanic
The resting place of the RMS Titanic lies 12,500 ft (3,800 metres) beneath the ocean, located off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
The story of this “unsinkable” vessel is well-known, but the location of the wreck was unknown until 1985 (The RMS Titanic sank in 1912). Numerous dives have been conducted since and there are a wealth of videos and photos of the decaying ship all over the internet.
12,800ft - Mponeng & TauTona Gold Mines
The deepest gold mines in the world are both located in South Africa and owned by the same company.
The Mponeng gold mine is so big (basically, a 2.5-mile hole in the ground) that a whole underground city lives inside the mine. Every day, 4,000 workers descend into the mine through triple-decked elevators which hold 120 people at a time. It takes 6 minutes to descend the first 1.6 miles.
30,000 ft - KTB Borehole
The KTB Borehole, also known as the German Superdeep Hole, was originally conceived as one of the most ambitious geoscientific projects ever. Scientists were eager to study the effects of stress on layers of rock, abnormalities in the Earth’s crust, and how heat and stress were conducted through it, amongst over geoscience things.
The $350 million project left Windischeschenbach, Germany with a hole 30,000 ft (9,100 metres) deep and as hot as 265 degrees celsius. Drilling ceased in 1994.
35,055ft - Deepwater Horizon
In 2009, the South Koran oil rig known as Deepwater Horizon drilled the deepest oil well in history at a vertical length of 35,055 ft (10,685 metres).
On 20 April 2010, an explosion on the rig killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball visible from 40 miles (64 km) away. The resulting fire could not be extinguished and two days later Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the seabed and causing the largest offshore oil spill in history.
35,787 ft - Deepest Solo Submarine Dive
In 2012, James Cameron (Titanic and Avatar director) set the record for the deepest solo submarine dive reaching a depth of 35,787 ft (10,908 metres).
His journey was recorded and made into a film called Deepsea Challenge, which follows James Cameron as he descends to a depth deeper than Mount Everest is high, taking over two hours to get there.
36,201 ft - Mariana Trench
Located in the western Pacific east of the Philippines, the Mariana Trench is the deepest natural point on Earth, and is where James Cameron made his record-breaking dive.
Measuring more than 1,500 miles long and 43 miles wide (on average), the Mariana Trench is a deep, black hole at the bottom of the Ocean - where life is sparse and sounds are silent.
37,318 ft - Sakhalin-I Project
The Sakhalin-1 project is a consortium to locate and produce oil and gas on Sakahalin Island, Russia and immediately offshore.
Since drilling began in 2003, six of the world’s 10 record-setting extended reach drilling wells have been drilled. On 27 August 2012, one of their wells known as the ERD well reached a measured total depth of 40,604 ft (12,376 meters), making it the longest well in the world.
However, despite being the longest drilled hole in the world, the ERD well isn’t actually the deepest. That record belongs to the Kola Borehole.
40,230 ft - Kola Borehole
The Kola Superdeep Borehole is the deepest artificial point on Earth. Located in Zapolyarny, Russia, the borehole is the result of a scientific drilling project of the Soviet Union, which sole purpose was the drill as deep as possible into the Earth’s crust.
Starting in 1970, the project was abandoned in 1989 when it no longer became possible to combat the unbearable heat; by the time they had reached a depth of 33,000 ft (10,000 metres), the temperature was at a sweltering 180 degrees celsius (356 F)!