Conditions at the wreck


A

Antonio

Guest
Hello to everybody, I'm a Spanish science writer. I'm having difficulty in confirming the environmental conditions at the current location of RMS Titanic, but I've found your forum.
happy.gif


This is related with an article I'm writing on the bacteria Halomonas titanicae, found at the rusticles. Could you please help me to confirm if the conditions at the wreckage are:

-Temperature: 3 - 4ºC, stable in time.
-Pressure: around 380 atm. (Any possible variation from bottom salinity and density?)
-Bottom type: mud and silt.
-Currents: negligible.
?

Thank you in advance for any help, specially sourced help!
happy.gif
Any additional info will also be welcomed.

Best regards and a happy new year to all.
 
Jan 28, 2003
2,525
5
223
I hope you find someone to help you, Antonio, but this is very scientifically specific stuff. Try asking Sam Halpern. Though I think I'd ask Woods Hole myself.
 
A

Antonio

Guest
Thank you very much, Monica, I've done it too. In any case, if anyone has something about this, I'd love to read it.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
233
As somebody who is admittedly completely hopeless at most scientific areas, I would have to suggest that the currents and temperatures at the wreck would be variable throughout the different seasons and therefore may possibly having some bearing on the life of bacteria on board the ship, and possibly over the course of time the condition of the ship itself.....but again that's just a guess and I could be completely wrong. What I do know is that the water pressure at Titanic's depth is bone crushing.

Best of luck with your work, I hope somebody has more accurate information with you - as Monica suggested, you may even wish to contact Woods Hole or any other organisation which has explored and tested the ship and its surrounds over the years.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Dec 29, 2006
729
6
113
Witney
Hello Antonio,

I think there was a contribution on the recently-discovered Halomonas titanicae bacterium found in the "rusticles" on the Titanic in the the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology - although you are presumably aware of this research?
 
A

Antonio Alvarez

Guest
Thank you to all. I have contacted the persons and institutions you mentioned and I'm waiting for answer. Anyway, if anyone has any additional info about this issue, I'd appreciate it a lot.

Monica: I had written to Woods Hole previously but it looks like they're too busy.
sad.gif


Adam: Take me with a grain of salt because I'm not a specialist in deep sea environments, but as far as I know, the conditions at great depths (and 3,800 meters qualify
wink.gif
) are pretty much constant through the year. If true (I'm not completely sure, also trying to confirm it), this would be because most superficial phenomena don't arrive, or are irrelevant there, while others strongly apply (total lack of solar irradiation, high pressure, different salinity, bottom-type streams...).

Stanley: That's *exactly* the article that sparked my interest in the issue.
happy.gif
But I write for a popular audience, so I'd like to "take them down there" prior to explaining how these kinds of life are possible.

BTW, just for a detail: Anyone knows at what precise time the Titanic anchors were last lifted?
wink.gif
 
Dec 29, 2006
729
6
113
Witney
>>> Anyone know at what precise time the Titanic anchors were last lifted? <<<

Lawrence Beesley stated that the Titanic left Queenstown at 1.30 pm on Thursday 11th April, which would seem to be fairly clear, but having said that, would it have been necessary to drop anchor - bearing in mind the that vessel was in open water (presumably somewhere off Crosshaven?) Would she have dropped anchors in that situation, or used the propellers to keep more or less stationary?
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,631
445
453
Easley South Carolina
Antonio, I think you'll find it's the temperature of the water at that depth which is pretty much consistant. The same can't always be said of some of the local currents which have a times been known to cause problems for submersibles which were exploring the wreck.
 
A

Antonio Alvarez

Guest
Stanley: Thank you, I was wondering the same. She departed Queenstown at 1:30pm 04/11, agreed, but I'm not sure if they needed to use the anchors while at this port.

Michael: Thank you too. I am pretty sure about the almost constant temperature and pressure at depth, but I have lots of doubts about the currents. If there's some text out there about this, I'd love to read it!

[Moderator's note: This thread, originally posted in an unrelated topic has been moved to the one, which is discussing the same subject. JDT]
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
233
Hi Antonio and Michael,

Agree with Michael about the currents although the depth the Titanic is at means she is immune from a lot of the problems wrecks in shallower waters deal with. I know that visibility and currents are real issues with wrecks such as the Empress of Ireland, lying in just a few hundred metres of water. Then there's the Lusitania of course with the fishing nets and similar debris.

Some of the problems submersibles have at the Titanic wreck are also self-inflicted, if they knock over a bunch of rusticles for instance - the affect this has can be seen in some parts of Ghosts Of The Abyss, the visibility goes from reasonable to nil in an instant.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Jan 28, 2003
2,525
5
223
I'm puzzled about these rusticle bacteria, which seem to be related to others with different lifestyles, according to the few (non-academic) articles I've glanced at. Are they anaerobic? You'd think they probably might be, but if they're oxidising and reducing metals, they can't be, surely?

I don't know anything about this really ... as you can gather.
 
Dec 29, 2006
729
6
113
Witney
Bearing in mind that the ship would have been tied-up when alongside at Southampton and Belfast, I'm wondering if the Titanic ever used her anchors?

Thinking of my own (limited) nautical and boating activities, it has been rare for anchors to be used - in part because, on a Thames Barge, they have to be wound back up by hand which can take anything up to 20 minutes of sustained, back-breaking effort. Similarly, on inland waterways, there is no point in dropping anchor or mooring if the boat is stopping for a limited period and there are no currents or side winds - in these cicumstanecs the propeller is normally used to maintain the desired position.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
233
Monica:

Not really conversational on the rusticles either but I understand that they are some sort of bacteria which feed off the ship and then the deposits they leave behind are those horrible rusticles - I remember there being a project floated once upon a time to rid the ship of these rusticles but evidently nothing ever came of it.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,631
445
453
Easley South Carolina
>>the affect this has can be seen in some parts of Ghosts Of The Abyss, the visibility goes from reasonable to nil in an instant.<<

The Britannic Expedition ran into the same problem when Richie Kohler and John Chatterton attempted to make their way to Boiler Room Five. Some of the sediment and rust got dislodged and visibility went to dog squat nada in no time at all. What made this especially dangerous was that this was a tech dive carried out at the very extreme limits of what was possible.

Whether in a diving rig or a submersible, wreck diving is not for the faint of heart. It's way too easy to get dead even if you know what you're doing!
 

Tom Barron

Member
Aug 2, 2011
14
0
31
I seem to remember reading somewhere that some of the skid marks left by the submersibles in the bottom mud had been pretty well obscured between expeditions. That would seem to indicate that there must have been some kind of 'bottom storm'(or at least a major change in the velocity of the ocean currents) during the time between those expeditions.

I can't recall the source of that information, but if I find it, I'll post on where I came across it.

I was curious about the rusting of the shipwreck itself. I thought it was just normal rust, but now I understand that there is very little oxygen in the water and that the rust is produced by bacteriological means and is not the usual rusting that we're all familiar with.

That last part has puzzled me quite a bit. Is it all bacteriological actions that are eating the wreck, or is there also a much slower rusting away also going on through the interaction of oxygen in the seawater?

I'm not a member of the 'leave it alone in the dark' school of thought as regards to what should be done with the shipwreck. If I had my druthers, I'd send spider walker robots in with sonar sensors on their feet and scoop up every single artifact lying hidden on every single deck in the whole ship. The time is fast approaching when the top decks will start tumbling down into the wreck and block off access to whatever is inside of her. Eventually we'll have a steel wall with portholes in it that is the hull plating and a pile of rust laying at the bottom between those walls.

Oxidation can take place quit fast with steel, as anyone who has ever set fire to steel wool in science class will remember. The slow oxidation of rusting in sea water is the same thing, but not as quick. My mental image of the ship was that it was slowly burning up in the sea, and nothing can be done about it, so why not salvage every thing out of her that could be taken? Twenty two hundred people carry a lot of luggage and whatnot with them. As it stands now, we're never going to see any of that stuff again. Yes, in a few centuries, some archeologists might winnow through the rust and suck up all the wedding rings, gold pocket watch casings, ceramic tiles and dishes, but that will be all that is left. Things made of gold, brass and ceramics.

Sorry to have gotten side tracked there, but I do have a question here about the rusticles. I understand that the exterior ones have a tough, leathery surface, and they also have a hollow insides and are made up of several different components. There seems to be some kind of specialization going on in the colony of a rusticle, and there are several separate -what is the word? Molds? Bacterium?- in side of each rust stalactite. However, inside of the ship, it's like a Disney cartoon haunted house, with very delicate and fragile rust that instantly turns into a cloud of rust when you touch it. It seems a bit odd to me that those rust colonies have evolved rudimentary circulation systems on the exterior rusticles and a tough hide to protect them, while the interior rust is super fragile and unprotected from non existent currents. Someone saw a 'plume of smoke' coming out of the wreck on one of the dives when the current conditions were right, so every once in a while, it looks like there are 'cross ventilation' currents that flow through the ship's interior.

Is the bacterium inside the wreck different from the exterior bacterium?

I know that this is a bit of a strange way to look at this, but are we seeing how life evolves here? Until the ship came crashing down from the surface, that was pretty much an empty field of lifeless mud. Then all of a sudden, here is this 'manna from heaven' of organic materials plunked down and this strange bacterium starts finding a place for it's spores to land and sprout and in less than a hundred years, we're seeing specialization functions taking place inside the rusticles. What does this say about how fast life evolved on Earth? Or is this the evolution of life at all that we are looking at? Besides the steel, there were plenty of germs arriving with the demised passengers and crew that were still trapped inside when the ship foundered and who suddenly found their corridors turned into impassible vertical shafts. Might this iron reducing life have arrived in the passengers guts and lungs? Is there any relationship between the bacterium eating the wreck and stuff in side of our own bodies? After all, every time a blood cell circulates through your lungs, it 'rusts' and picks up oxygen, then goes to nourish every other cell in our bodies, so might that ability to pick up oxygen be a more highly specialized version of that bacterium we see eating the ship? I have no idea if this is so or not, but have any scientists located the spores for that bacterium drifting along in the bottom currents all set to sprout when they come in contact with iron? This seems to me that it would be a fairly simple and obvious experiment: Just move a bit upstream of the current flowing past the ship and uncork a bottle and get a sample and culture it. Generating six thousand PSI and 28 F isn't that complicated a task, is it? If that bacterium is floating around in the world's sea water, it should be a fairly simple matter to find. If it is not, then it arrived in the blood streams of the passengers, or the food that was on board, and would need high pressure and a low temperature and some iron to start it growing.

I realize that this is a rather specialized question in advanced biology, but does anyone know if anyone has looked in seawater to find out if those spores are there or not? Forgive me for asking such an off the wall question here, but I can't think of any where else I could find a group that knows so much about the shipwreck and I hope that nobody thinks that I'm out of line by my speculating on this matter of biological science here.

After all, if you look at this from a slightly tilted perspective and my speculations about spores in human blood are correct, you could say that the drowned passengers are responsible for burning the ship up.

It's either that, or life specializing into cooperative colonies in less than a hundred years. That seems awfully fast to me, but that bacterium had to come from somewhere. Human blood isn't usually chilled down to 28F and subjected to six thousand pounds per square inch, and spores have to have the just the right conditions to sprout. I have no idea of what the freezing point of seawater is at six thousand psi, but on the surface, I believe it's 28F. As the boiling point of water increases with pressure, does the freezing point? Or is it just barely above freezing at the wreck site?

While I have laid out a lot of odd questions here, I have no idea at all if these are just odd questions that nobody has ever asked before, or if someone asked them and found out the answers to them and published them in a scientific paper that I have not the training to even understand the title of.

Anyone?
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
233
Michael:

Very good point and of course exploration - particularly internal exploration - of wrecks such as the Britannic is made all the more difficult and disorientating because of course they are lying on their side. At least the Titanic is upright so you have a much clearer idea of where you're going and what you're doing based on the original plans.

Tom:

Can't help you with your scientific questions but I sort of agree with you in regards to the remains of the ship....it's a grave site, absolutely, and it should be treated as such, but I can't help the feeling that in 200 or 300 years time when both we and the identifiable remains of the ship are long gone, people will still be studying it and wanting to know more about it, and when they get told why more wasn't done to try and help the wreck site or bring more to the surface which could help us understand and remember, everyone will say...."well that was stupid."

But she's a strong old beast and I think she's got a while to go yet. They can still land submarines on her deck.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Tom Barron

Member
Aug 2, 2011
14
0
31
Hi Adam

Well, she is and she isn't, as far as strength goes.

When they first found the wreck, the boilers in the bow section were covered over by deck.

The deck is now gone, and that took a quarter of a century to dissolve it away totally.

The insides of the ship are columns supporting the decks. All the walls were wood, and where the decks are being supported is just those columns. In the bow section, where the bend is, most all of those deck columns are bent. I have no idea of how much of those are almost rusted through. Once the decks start not being supported and cracks open, then the water will be able to circulate a lot easier, which will accelerate them failing.

They gymnasium roof has given up the ghost. I have a feeling that we might be loosing the boat deck within our life times. A decade or two and that will be that.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
233
Hi Tom,

Yeah very good point about what's happened to the ship just since she's been discovered.....there's also the collapse of the mast/crows nest.

Titanic was of course never designed to last for centuries at a depth of 2.5 miles underwater, I think she's held up pretty well considering....

Just hopefully she hangs on and puts on a good show for the centenary.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Sam Brannigan

Member
Feb 24, 2007
900
9
123
>>>Would she have dropped anchors in that situation, or used the propellers to keep more or less stationary?<<<

Can't imagine Smith taking any chances after the Hawke and New York incidents, especially as the tenders at Cherbourg and Queenstown would have been nowhere near as sturdy.

Besides, why else would the Olympic class be so well endowed with anchors? When else would they use them?
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,631
445
453
Easley South Carolina
From The Pacific Stars And Stripes:

Full Titanic wreck site is mapped for 1st time
quote:

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Researchers have pieced together what's believed to be the first comprehensive map of the entire 3-by-5-mile Titanic debris field and hope it will provide new clues about what exactly happened the night 100 years ago when the superliner hit an iceberg, plunged to the bottom of the North Atlantic and became a legend.
More HERE
 

Similar threads