James Cameron wowed audiences with high-flying 3D action in Avatar – many of the film’s premiere action scenes were set in the clouds of Pandora, the Hallelujah Mountains, or on the back of Banshees.

However, it’s looking increasingly likely that, as we reported back in April, Avatar 2 will also showcase the oceans of Pandora.

The Australian reports that Australian engineers are hard at work on a “deep sea vessel” that would enable Cameron to shoot 3D for Avatar 2 – at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. With the vessel, Cameron and company could shoot 3D in the Mariana Trench (West of the Philippines) a 2, 500 kilometer trench – and the deepest spot of Earth, with known depths exceeding 11 kilometers below the ocean’s surface.

Cameron wasn’t shy about his trip to the Mariana Trench, which is tentatively scheduled for later this year:

“We are building a vehicle to do the dive. It’s about half-completed in Australia.”

That said, the director wasn’t quite as open to Pandora-related speculation about the trip – asserting the dive is intended to raise environmental awareness – not necessarily part of Avatar 2 pre-production.

According to The Australian, the submersible will be a “two-seater, finned cylinder fitted with the latest 3D cameras and a heating system.”

There has only been one successful manned descent into the Mariana Trench, in 1960 by the United States Navy deep-sea submersible, Trieste. Upon reaching the trench, the crew were surprised to see vertebrate life including Shrimp, as well as a type of Flatfish (they speculated could have been Sole or Flounder) – because of the depth (estimated at 10,916 meters deep).

Whether or not the footage Cameron collects in the Mariana Trench will directly be used in Avatar 2 pre-production is debatable; however, it’s impossible to imagine that diving to the deepest point on the Earth isn’t going to give him some ideas.

Earth’s oceans are some of the most mysterious places on the planet (credit to BBC’s Planet Earth series); however, if Pandora’s forests are any indication, the oceans of the alien moon will probably put whatever Cameron finds at the bottom of the Mariana Trench to shame.

Until then, we’ll just have to settle for the upcoming Avatar: Special Edition DVD/Blu-ray releases.

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Source: The Australian [via The Playlist]