What happened to the iceberg


Jason D. Tiller

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Hello Svetlana,

In a nutshell, that's exactly what happens to icebergs. Icebergs travel down the Atlantic ocean and as soon as the water gets warm enough, they begin to melt until they are nothing but water.
 
Sep 4, 2007
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That's interesting. So you could be swimming in the warm gulf somewhere, in atoms that contributed to Titanic's sinking? Or it could be in drinking water. *shudder*
 

Dave Gittins

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A few atoms might even be in you! Water is evaporated from the sea and falls as rain. We eat foods and drink water. Perhaps that's why we are Titanic fans.

More seriously, the iceberg may have been rather damaged in the collision. By the time bergs get so far south, they are getting quite fragile. I've seen video of a berg turning over and breaking up in the process. In another case, an attempt to tow a berg away from an oil platform had to be abandoned because the berg was too fragile. We know some of the berg landed on Titanic's deck and it's possible the berg partly broke up. That would hasten its melting.
 
Sep 4, 2007
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Speaking of the iceberg, in case anyone hasn't seen a photo of the actual bane of Titanic, the photo is here.
It gives me chills. Especially the right part of the iceberg - you can tell that is where it collided with Titanic!
It's from this article.
 

Dave Gittins

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Svetlana, I have about 7 - 8 photos of icebergs that supposedly did the deed. Some were taken on the morning of 15 April in the vicinity of the wreck.

None of them can be proved to be the real culprit. The one in the first link you sent is often known as the Rehorek berg. It's discussed in detail on this site. It has the advantage of being a suitable shape, but that's about all. The one from the paper is different berg. It was photographed from Birma on 15 April.

The whole question was confused by the fact that nobody in 1912 knew where Titanic sank, because the CQD position sent by Titanic was wrong. Some photographed bergs that we now know were far from the wreck.

Personally, I don't think it matters at all.
 
Nov 24, 2007
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Maybe I just need direction to the appropriate discussion site but, If icebergs were seen earlier in the day, as is suggested by some, what would be standard running procedures for a liner such as the Titanic through the remainder of the ice fields and especially at night?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>what would be standard running procedures for a liner such as the Titanic through the remainder of the ice fields and especially at night?<<

I think that on some level, a very large part of the problem was that there was no standard which everybody abided by. The general approach was to hold course and speed as long as visibility held up. As long as they could see in time to avoid, there was no reason to do otherwise and there was that schedule they were obliged to keep to.

There were some notable exceptions to that. Canadian-Pacific forbade entering an icefield for any reason, which was why the Mount Temple stopped short of same. They were expected to go around it.

Beyond that, it was a matter of judgement.
 
Well, anybody was able to see the iceberg melting away, but taking the average water temperature into account you can easily calculate and predict when the iceberg will melt away. I think that late April is a reasonable date, since the iceberg was floating further and further to the south. The increasing warm temperatures and the gulf stream would do their job quite quickly.
 

Jim Currie

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Actually I do not think the iceberg floated 'further to the south - the one that killed Titanic or any of the other ones in the vicinity.

Ice bergs either melt before reaching their southernmost limits or reach those limits and then are pushed eastward.

My personal belief is; the ice had reached as far south at is was going to and was sort of 'milling around' if you like. All the sighting evidence and movements of the ships in the area prior to the sinking point to this.
 

Jim Currie

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Desculpe por favor!

Sou Maderiense nuvo. Portanto eu nao fala espanol. (no hablo) Portanto I'll try and explain in english.

'Milling around' means moving around on the same spot (place) - not actually going in any one particular direction.(a bit like some of our politicians!)

In the case of the pack ice and bergs; I believe they had reached as far south as they could go under the influence of the south-running current and were just about to enter the influence of the Gulf Stream which would start to push them toward the east (and accelerate the melting process). Does this make sense to you?
 

Dave Gittins

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Actually, in 1912 icebergs went well south of their usual haunts. Amerika reported one in 41 27 N and her warning was relayed to the US by Titanic. One berg almost made it to Bermuda. The year was most unusual.

An interesting point made in the documentary The Iceberg That Sank the Titanic is that the fatal berg must have originally been exceptionally big by North Atlantic standards. It had to be huge to survive up to two years of drifting about before reaching the open ocean.
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Dave! Nice to see you on board.

This is what I was taught:

Most bergs surviving for up to a year after calving (breaking-off and floating away).
The majority of bergs in that area begin life at the edge of the glaciers of Greenland. They slowly drift out to sea and are initially carried southward by the current. Because currents are deflected to the right in the northern hemisphere; the ones hazardous to navigation are found mainly off the coasts of Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland.
They usually calve in the summer months when the temperatures are higher. However, the majority of them are locked-in by pack ice during the following winter and they are effectively anchored during the cold months. They do not decrease much in volume during these months.
In spring, they continue their journey to the south.
The cold labrador current which carries them south also delays the melting process.
During the height of the ice season(April to June) it's not unusual for the biggest bergs penetrate as far south as 41N. I've never seen them that far south myself but that is what we were taught many years ago - long before the great interest in Titanic.

I've never seen the documentary you refer to. However, I deduce that a very large berg can only last for 2 years from it's date of birth so to speak, if it becomes grounded soon after calving and remains close to it's birthplace for another summer. Then the second summer, enough is melted off to allow it to float free. Since the water depth in the area governs the maximum draft of all floating ice and the draft of a berg is normally one or two times the height above the surface; we can roughly guess the maximum volume of any berg from a particular origin.
I guess what I'm trying to say is; once a berg floats free and starts it's journey south, only a decrease in water depth will delay it's journey. I do not think the age of the berg has anything to do with how far south it will travel.
The main criteria governing the life afloat of the berg is maximum possible draft afloat + underwater volume + temperature of the sea and air. en route. To a lesser extent, southerly gales may delay the southward passage but these are rare during the ice season. Most big winds come from the South West in January,February and March before the ice starts moving south.

No doubt you've read my article on the ice at the time. I believe that the labrador current was not particularly strong that year but spring came early in northern latitudes above Newfoundland. However if the Labrador current was a little colder than usual due to a greater than usual volume of melt-ice, it would sink sooner below the relatively warmer surface waters to the south. All this would have the effect of starting the ice on it's southward journey a few days earlier but slowing the shallower elements progressively as the surface current weakened. There had to be a point where that surface current came to a halt. I think that was between 41:30N and 42 30N - where the 'string' of pack ice was located between 12th and 16th April,1912. The bigger bergs seen to the south of that were the ones which floated free from their birth place with the maximum draft but with huge volume.
 

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