James Cameron: What's Next

No sooner had filmmaker and explorer James Cameron returned from visiting the bottom of the ocean on March 26, that people started wondering what his next expedition would be.

Cameron noted that one dive does not mark the end of deep-sea exploration.

"The best metaphor here would be that you have just air-dropped into Nebraska at night with a flashlight and walked about a mile shining it around through the fields and then you say that you have explored America," Cameron told fellow explorers and invitees on Friday at the National Geographic Explorers Symposium.

The celebrated director of iconic movies such as The Terminator 2, Titanic and Avatar took the stage to discuss his trip to the Mariana Trench in the submersible Deepsea Challenger and to offer a sneak peek at the 3D feature film highlighting the dive that is currently in production.

As the clip from the feature film wrapped up on the big screen behind him, Cameron joked about how much warmer it was standing up on stage compared to being in freezing waters in the sub over 37,000 feet down.

Cameron said that to think that just because they had successfully reached the bottom of the Mariana's Trench they were done with trenches would be crazy. "Interestingly, the Challenger Deep we know almost more about then any of the other trenches because it's the deepest place," Cameron explained. "It attracts a scientific attention because by describing what is there you can create a set of boundary conditions and then everything else theoretically will be lesser or transitional to what we see at shallower depths." However, scientists still do not know if this theory is correct.

If you added up all the trenches from 6,000 down to 11,000 meters around the world they collectively make up an area the size of Australia. Cameron said, "so there is an unexplored continent, really and we know so little about it."

Fellow National Geographic explorer in residence Dr. Sylvia Earle asked Cameron when and where his next expedition will be. After joking about Dr. Earle just trying to figure out when she could pile in the sub herself, Cameron responded, "for this particular vehicle, I have a notional plan for a phase two expedition." He expressed interest in going back to Serena Deep to explore areas that he did not get an opportunity to fully survey prior to his journey to the Mariana Trench. In addition, he flirted with the idea of exploring Horizon Deep and other trenches.

Cameron's achievements within exploration are a reminder that in an era of technological advancement there are still many new frontiers left to be explored. "There is just so much that we don't know," explained Cameron. "Every time that you dive you find out new questions. You find out a few answers and 10 times that in terms of new questions, I think. So we just have to get busy."