Where Is the Middle of the Ocean?
The furthest Point from dry ground floats precisely where you would expect: smack dab in the middle of the South Pacific. Called Point Nemo after the submarine commander in Jules Verne’s famous book, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” it represents the centre of an empty blue circle around the size of North America. But how in the world was this site found?
Considering all the islands that pepper Earth’s waters and the continent’s chaotic coasts, there was no possible way to pinpoint the actual “middle of the ocean” until contemporary times, with the assistance of GPS satellites and computers.
In 1992, a Croatian-Canadian survey engineer named Hrvoje Lukatela utilized a GIS software of his own creation, called Hipparchus, to identify Point Nemo. He accomplished it by noticing that since Earth’s surface is three-dimensional, its remotest ocean point must sit the same distance away from the three closest coasts; the Hipparchus software discovered the ocean location that was furthest from three other equidistant land coordinates.
At 48°52.6′ south, 123°23.6′ west, Point Nemo is 1,670 miles (2688 kilometres) from a trio of land points: Ducie Island to the north, an uninhabited atoll in the Pitcairn Islands; Motu Nui to the northeast, a tiny islet off the Chilean island of Easter Island; and frigid Maher Island to the south, off the Antarctic coast.
According to Ken Jennings of The Daily Traveler, the term Nemo derives from the Latin for “nobody”; apt, he noted, considering its entirely probable Point Nemo “has never received a single visitor.”
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