Sep 2006
This morning I watched the History Channel’s program Titanic’s Final Moments Missing Pieces on video. Some survivors of the disaster claimed that the ship broke apart, while others claimed it stayed in one piece. When Ballard found the wreck in 2 sections everyone accepted the fact that the ship broke apart. However, the theory usually accepted was that the bow filled with water and raised the stern out of the water at a steep angle (Cameron’s movie). This meant the ship broke apart from top to bottom. The top would have been pulled apart in a clean break while the bottom would have pushed together. However, the stern section of the ship shows massive damage, while the bow is still pretty recognizable.

The exploratory expedition shown in the History Channel’s program found a section of the ship’s bottom that stretched from side to side and concluded that the stern was lifted only a shallow angle and the ship broke apart from the bottom to the top after the section of bottom hull (that was found) broke away from the ship. The bottom was pulled apart while the top was pushed together- hence the visible damage to the stern, while the section that broke away seems to fit between the bow and stern parts of the wreck like a jigsaw puzzle.

The expedition in the program started out looking for evidence of damage to the bottom of the ship from bow to stern. The thinking was that the bottom scraped across an underwater ledge of the iceberg so water could enter from the side and the bottom of the ship. No evidence for such damage was found. But, the section of bottom hull that was found was a mile or so away from the main parts of the wreckage- meaning the ship continued to drift a while after the section of bottom hull broke away.

My question is what could have caused this section of bottom hull to break away? Running over the iceberg would have naturally damaged the bottom from bow to stern, but the damage that lead to the ship breaking apart was done from port to starboard. And that damage was not simply a slit in the hull, but essentially 2 slits. What could have caused this?

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