Has anyone considered ice jammed in the hull breach


Tim Foecke

Member
Jul 16, 2003
134
1
111
I had a revelation the other day, when I spilled a glass of ice tea. It happened to fall against something that held the huge quantity of ice cubes in place at the opening, and it was tipped over for a couple of seconds, and I only lost about 1 inch of tea. I got to thinking about whether the gap in the hull might have been crammed with broken pieces of ice from the berg. Over time, as the slightly-above-freezing water ran over the ice, it would have melted very slowly, lessening the opening in the hull slightly if it were wedging it open, but increasing the available area of the damage to let water through as time progressed. Any incongruities in the flooding analysis that this might address?

Just a random brain fart as I am preparing my slides to teach my class (Structure and Properties of Materials - Johns Hopkins University). You can only work on slides for so long before your mind starts to wander . . .
 

Tim Foecke

Member
Jul 16, 2003
134
1
111
I haven't made a detailed study of the flooding rates - just wondering if there are any reported cases of "hey, that's not right" in any of the flooding analyses.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,614
680
483
Easley South Carolina
I'm not aware of any. The most detailed analysis I've seen is the work done by Bedford and Hackett, and they mentioned no such anomolies that I can recall. They may have discussed something privately, but it never made it into their paper.

Edward Wilding did quite a bit of number crunching back in 1912, but all he ever discussed in public by way of his testimony and depositions never mentions any such reservations. If he had them, he kept them to himself.

If you've seen something that doesn't quite ring true, I'm all ears, but as far as I can see, this angle has never been explored.

Perhaps it should be.
 

Will C. White

Member
Apr 18, 2007
267
2
111
Another thing to consider, and there's no way to test it approx. 95 years later, would be the "quality" of the ice, since there is no way to obtain an actual sample of the "guilty" iceberg. We know that some ended up shaving off and landed up forward, but this was probably from near the top, and soft. How hard was it say 100' below that? Was it that clear ice with no air in it that's almost steel hard? Just a little food for thought, and discussion. WILL
 
Mar 7, 2006
106
0
111
The trouble is once we start to use words like "hard" in a general term it gets confusing because hardness, especially in metals can be quite scientifically measured - when I was at college we used both Rockwell and Vickers for the actual test.

How Ice would compare to steel I don't know.

In relation to Titanic I think there is lot more to consider in the dynamics of the collision besides the hardness of the primary materials involved.
 

Tim Foecke

Member
Jul 16, 2003
134
1
111
Ice, even at absolute zero and of a perfect structure, has a hardness that is no more than 1/30th that of steel. This from a colleague, Prof. Erland Schulson at Darmouth, who has studied the mechanical properties of ice for over 30 years for the Navy and oil rig industry.

Anyone who says or implies otherwise is misinformed or blowing smoke.
 
Mar 22, 2003
6,132
1,477
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
Thanks Tim for that information. I understand that ice gets harder as temperatures get lower. But even at -20°C, ice is still less hard than an average fingernail (2 Mohs Vs. 2.5 Mohs; you could scratch it with your fingernails).

From James:
quote:

In relation to Titanic I think there is lot more to consider in the dynamics of the collision besides the hardness of the primary materials involved.
Absolutely. Just a few items to consider are: the contact area between the two objects, the contact angle relative to ship's direction of movement, the masses of the two objects, the relative speed at the time of contact, etc. What we know is that the ship's hull was deformed enough to let a certain amount of water enter the ship in a given period of time. It was based on this observation that the amount of equivalent hull opening area was calculated. There are no observations that I'm aware of that would suggest that the area of hull openings had increased over time by the effect that Tim talked about. That is not to say that there was no such affect at all, just that we don't have any evidence to support that there was. But feel free to speculate.​
 

James Smith

Member
Dec 5, 2001
490
4
171
quote:

Ice, even at absolute zero . . .

Dr. Foecke (or some other person with knowledge of chemestry/physics), perhaps you could correct me. If I remember correctly from high school chemistry, at "absolute zero" (zero degrees Kelvin) matter would theoretically collapse because, within each atom, the electrons would no longer have sufficient energy to resist being pulled into the atom's nucleus. Am I wrong?

--Jim​
 

Will C. White

Member
Apr 18, 2007
267
2
111
Sam-Sufficient force driving any material in any direction can cause tremendous damage. A point of clear, age hardened ice driven into a plate with sufficient force will buckle or pierce it. As to the fingernail, take one of those real clear ice cubes right out of the freezer and try and scratch it and see what gives first. My only point being is that mathmatical certainties don't always match real world application.
 

Tim Foecke

Member
Jul 16, 2003
134
1
111
By stating even at absolute zero, I was trying to imply really, really, really cold.

Absolute zero is a theoretical construct in thermodynamics wherein entropy is zero. In experiments where I work, they cool atoms to near absolute zero. One of our 3 Nobel winners in physics, Bill Phillips, once told me in response to a question that if he ever reached absolute zero, because it is defined as a relative quantity, he would have to redefine to be cooler, since he shouldn't be able to reach it, by definition.

The concept of absolute zero has been mis-taught for years. Kind of like a third grade teacher asking kids which of these numbers can be divided by two, when they mean evenly divided by two. Oversimplification is rife.

Mister White - I don't care how cold, and "age hardened ice" is gibberish, I'm telling you that ICE DOESN'T PIERCE STEEL. That IS reality. Take it from a PhD materials scientist, gov't scientist and university professor. It's bunk. Doo-doo. Falderal. Hoo-hah. Grade A bolonium.

Can you tell I've heard this from students at my many talks hundreds of times?
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,614
680
483
Easley South Carolina
>>Can you tell I've heard this from students at my many talks hundreds of times?<<

I do get that impression.
wink.gif
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,045
316
353
The US inquiry was a bit puzzled by the apparent ability of ice to cut steel. The suggestion was made that the damage was really done by rocks embedded in the ice, as they sometimes are. The inquiry was advised that collision with ice alone was sufficient to do enough damage. Today we understand that no steel was cut.

The "steelhard ice" business comes from early accounts, which wildly exaggerated both the size of the berg and the extent of the damage. We now know that the berg was not particularly large. Roy Mengot calculated that is may have displaced no more than 75,000 tons. It's possible that the berg was even suffering from senile decay, as bergs that go far south are often quite fragile. I've seen spectacular video of one that broke up in the process of rolling over. We know bits were knocked off the berg and it may have somewhat rearranged during the collision.

Even given a small, fragile berg, if 50,000 tons of ship hits 75,000 tons of ice, something's got to give on both sides.
 
May 12, 2002
211
1
171
Hi James,

Just to add a little to the answers Sam and Tim have given you. Quantum mechanics implies that even if absolute zero could be reached, a system (say water molecules in ice) would still have a small, non-zero amount of energy. This is known as zero-point energy. In your example of an electron in an atom this is also known as its ground state. It cannot have energy lower than this, so it won't go crashing into the nucleus or anything...

Cheers

Paul
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,614
680
483
Easley South Carolina
>>Even given a small, fragile berg, if 50,000 tons of ship hits 75,000 tons of ice, something's got to give on both sides.<<

Which is a point I've been trying to get across for years. Unfortunately, the "ice spur slicing through steel" thing is so deeply entrenched in the Legend of the Titanic, that nobody seems to wonder whether or not the legend has anything to do with reality.
 

Will C. White

Member
Apr 18, 2007
267
2
111
I'll defend myself a bit here. I'd say we can all agree that RMS Titanic foundered after a nighttime collision with ice in some form. It wasn't lost to a torpedo, a tsunami, or a Martian death ray. Clearly the ice was hard enough to 1) shear rivets, 2) buckle steel plating (which may pull rivets free), 3) penetrate the plating, or any combo of the heretofor mentioned. Mathmatical certainties often fail in the face of actual nature, which is never anything to screw around with. In theory, it should be impossible for a blunt ended 2"X4" to penetrate a tree without shattering, but one good tornado disproved that; even if you consider that they are similar materials. A practical test would probably start by determining the hardness of the ice potentially involved by using either core sample data from the same proximate area where the berg was calved, or a sample from the glaciers in that area that might actually be the parent, and then recreate the angle and speed of the strike on a recreated steel hull plate in a saltwater tank at the estimated temperature using ice of the same hardness. Sounds like PhD stuff to me, with gov't. dollars to pay for it.
 
Mar 22, 2003
6,132
1,477
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
Dave. Maybe 750,000 tons. At 75,000 tons it would have been pretty small, displacing only 50% more than the ship itself. The peak of the berg that Titanic struck was seen to be a little higher than the boat deck.

Will. What Tim and I are reacting to is the statement in the question you asked when you said: "Was it that clear ice with no air in it that's almost steel hard?" What Tim and I are saying is that ice just doesn't cut it.

I think you are confusing the ability of a large massive object, even if constructed of not so strong material, to cause damage if it strikes or is struck by another object with sufficient energy. The iceberg doesn't have to cut through steel plate to cause plates to bend or crumple, rivets to sheer off, or seams from opening up. Just have to look at the damage that can be done to an automobile if it hits a deer at high speed. But the damage to the poor animal is far worse. What you can be almost sure of, is that there was quite a bit of ice that was crushed and broken off during the collision with the ship besides the damage inflicted onto the ship itself.

By the way, I did your little experiment last night and started to scrape an ice cube with my fingernails. Guess what? There were scratches on the cube and some ice fragments under my fingernails. Try it if you don't bite.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads