The Deepwater Horizon, in context

June 11, 2010
By

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

The Earth is pretty big. Give or take, it's about 36,000 feet (11km) to the height of a 747 soaring above Everest, and (in pleasing symmetry) about the same distance down the bottom of the Mariana Trench. (Nonetheless, if you shrunk the Earth down to scale, it would still be smoother than a billiard ball.) So I was surprised when I saw this infographic of the Earth from the tallest mountain to the deepest trench, and saw how much of that distance the Deepwater Horizon project spanned. Pre-spill, I mean: from the floating rig down the riser to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, and then down the well to the oil reservoir itself. Here's a detail of the chart:

Deepwater-detail

There's about 3,000 feet of vertical in that segment; the full chart is drawn on a linear scale (an excellent design choice) and spans 24 screens that size. The Deepwater Horizon project spans 6 of those screens, or about a quarter of the entire vertical span of the Earth. The numbers don't do it justice though -- I suggest taking a look at the full chart and scrolling from top to bottom. You may be surprised at the sense of scale you get from it. 

Our Amazing Planet: Tallest Mountain to Deepest Ocean Trench

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