Geotechnical investigation of the "Titanic" wreck site

Best, A.I. ORCID:; Powrie, W.; Hayward, T.; Barton, M.. 2000 Geotechnical investigation of the "Titanic" wreck site. Marine Georesources and Geotechnology, 18 (4). 315-331.

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Recent marine forensic investigations have largely unravelled the sequence of events concerning the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic and its descent through nearly 3800 m of water to the seafloor on the morning of 15 April 1912. In particular, the velocity and attitude of the Titanic's bow section (at present lying upright, reasonably intact, and embedded by ~12 m at the prow) as it hit the bottom are of general interest to marine accident investigators. During the 1998 Titanic Science Expedition, a single sediment sample was retrieved from the seafloor (depth 20-30 cm) near the wreck by the deep water submersible, Nautile. Published geological studies suggest the seafloor in this area has remained largely undisturbed since 1912. Geotechnical analysis of the sediment sample reveals that the impact was probably a substantially undrained event and that the characteristic undrained shear strength of the sediment is ~25kPa within 10-16 m below the seafloor. A simple analytical model was used to calculate the embedment of a cuboid with dimensions and mass of the water-filled bow as a function of impact velocity, impact angle, and the undrained shear strength of the sediment. The results indicate the impossibility of a steep angle of impact and fast velocity. The most likely scenario is an impact velocity of 5-10 m/s at a fairly shallow angle (<40°), which corroborates the results of hydrodynamic investigations.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Date made live: 21 Jul 2004 +0 (UTC)

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