Return to the Titanic

Danette Dooley
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Scientists to produce 3-D map of famed wreck

Archeologists, oceanographers and other nautical scientists will leave Pier 17 in St. John’s Harbour Sunday onboard the research vessel Jean Charcot for an expedition to the Titanic wreckage where they’ll create a three-dimensional map of the entire shipwreck area.

RMS Titanic Inc. president Chris Davino talks to reporters in St. John’s Friday about the voyage by the research vessel Jean Charcot to the wreck of the Titanic. RMS Titanic Inc. president Chris Davino (left) talks to reporters in St. John’s Fri

On Friday afternoon media from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada were given a tour of the vessel and the equipment and technology that will be used during the three-week expedition.

RMS Titanic Inc. has exclusive salvage rights to the wreck.

According to RMS Titanic Inc. president Chris Davino, there are still significant portions of the wreckage that have yet to be explored.

“We think there are some fairly substantially sized objects that might have been seen but certainly not imaged and brought back to the public.”

More than 1,500 people died on April 15, 1912 when the Titanic struck ice and sank in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Newfoundland’s coastline.

The wreckage lies at a depth of more than 4,000 metres (about 2.5 miles).

During the current expedition scientists will use acoustic imaging, sonar technologies as well as video and three-dimensional imaging in what is touted as “the most technologically-advanced and scientific project in nautical history.”

“The people we’ve bought together … people with different expertise, all have a vested interest to preserve Titanic for the long term and celebrate and commemorate Titanic’s legacy leading up to the (100th) anniversary in 2012,” Davino said.

Davino admits that, since the wreckage was discovered 25 years ago, there has been ongoing debate about the site — with some groups feeling the Titanic is a sanctuary and, as such, should remain untouched.

Other groups, he said, including RMS Titanic Inc., feel artifact recovery is appropriate to continue to maintain the Titanic legacy.

The current expedition brings both sides of the debate together, Davino said.

Alexandra Klingelhofer is vice-president of collections with RMS Titanic Inc.

“We think there are some fairly substantially sized objects that might have been seen but certainly not imaged and brought back to the public.” Chris Davino

During an interview Friday morning, Klingelhofer said the expedition will be conducted in two phases.

The first phase will include imaging the entire site.

The vessel will then make a second trip to the site where scientists will conduct numerous experiments, including an acoustic survey of the vessel’s bow.

After creating an archeological plan for the site, the information will be used to highlight how shipwrecks in deep water should be preserved and give scientists a management plan for the Titanic for future expeditions, Klingelhofer said.

“It will give us co-ordinates for all the larger sections of the hull as well as for almost every artifact that’s visible on the ocean floor so that we will complete our Titanic mapping project.”

Information gathered during this expedition is also expected to answer questions about what happened to cause the disaster, Klingelhofer said.

“By finding where coal is, where dishes are — like a crime scene you can walk backwards in time and perhaps gain a better sense of what happened when the ship went down.”

The public can follow the expedition by visiting www.expeditiontitanic.com.

Once completed, the three-dimensional map will also be part of the website.

“We want to make sure the public can follow this every day because they are the ones that keep the story alive,” Klingelhofer said.

 

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: RMS Titanic Inc.

Geographic location: United States, United Kingdom, Germany Canada Atlantic Ocean Newfoundland

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