March 9, 2012
New Map To Bring Titanic Disaster To Life
Researchers announced this week that they have finally developed a complete map of the Titanic wreckage site and plan to use this new information to gain a better understanding of the events that took place in the north Atlantic on April 14 and 15th, 1912.
As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking approaches researchers, explorers, and documentarians are racing to piece together a more comprehensive understanding of what happened from the time just before the Titanic struck an iceberg, to its settling on the ocean floor, to even its decomposition and current state today.
For example, researchers told the Associated Press (AP) this week that marks on the ocean floor suggest the stern rotated as the ship sank, rather than maintaining orientation as previously thought.
The map was created by remotely controlled sonic-imaging submarines that individually surveyed the wreckage site in the summer of 2010. The expedition, led by RMS Titanic Inc. in conjunction with the History Channel and other organizations, gathered more than 100,000 images. The results will culminate with a two-hour documentary airing on the channel on April 15.
The comprehensive map has been compared to those made of the Moon. The black and white images form a desolate mosaic that appears inhospitable to human life. Debris can be seen strewn across the ocean floor between and surrounding the two major segments of the ship, which are about half a mile apart. The debris includes the ship´s boilers, a lightning rod, and even a massive coal field made from coal that was intended to power the Titanic to New York City.
Researchers hope to use this new map to create computer simulations that will reenact the ship´s sinking in reverse, reassembling the wreckage as it rises to the surface. This will allow them to more fully understand what design elements contributed not only to the ship´s sinking, but to how it came to rest on the ocean floor.
The wreckage itself has undergone a transformation since sinking to the ocean floor. Microorganisms feeding on iron in the ship´s hull have not only degraded the Titanic, but have created “rusticles” or icicle-like formations made from oxidized metal. Captain Smith´s stateroom has seen a large amount of natural deterioration, including the crumpling of walls, and is on the verge of collapsing. The crow´s nest, where the infamous iceberg was first spotted, has fallen off the ship´s mast-- another victim of deep sea corrosion.
The Titanic disaster has long fascinated both the general public and researchers alike as there are so many facets of it to be explored, examined or theorized about. There is a psychological aspect involving hubris of engineers and the behavior of people in the face of a life-and-death disaster. There is a physical and engineering aspect involving the design of seagoing vessels and how the Titanic´s design played a role in its ultimate fate. There are also a theological aspects involving those who died and the faith of those who chose to “go down with the ship” including the musicians who bravely played “Nearer my God to Thee” as the mighty ship eased into the frigid early morning waters.
Image Caption: RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912.
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