A high-tech 3D underwater scanning process has for the first time unveiled the wreckage of the doomed ship Titanic in thorough detail in images released Wednesday.
Scientists are calling the photos, produced by deep water specialists Magellan, the largest underwater scanning project in history. First published by the BBC, the images offer previously unknown insight into the ship’s disastrous journey across the Atlantic more than a century ago.
How were scans of the Titanic created?
The scan – named Romeo and Juliet – was created during a six-week expedition to the North Atlantic wreck location in the summer of 2022.
The specialists used submersibles that traveled 12,500 feet underwater to produce what they call the infamous ship's "digital twin." They said they used 16 terabytes of data, and more than 715,000 still images to create the images. The researchers had to endure rough sea conditions including bad weather.
Magellan’s Gerhard Seiffert, who led the planning for the expedition, told the BBC they were not allowed to touch anything “so as not to damage the wreck”.
“The other challenge is that you have to map every square centimeter – even uninteresting parts, like on the debris field you have to map mud, but you need this to fill in between all these interesting objects,” Seiffert said.
Other recent Titanic discoveries
The Titanic, thought to be nearly impregnable when it was built, sank on April 15, 1912, killing an estimated 1,500 people after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. The collision shocked the world and prompted outrage over a lack of lifeboats on board.
Rare video footage showing the Titanic ocean liner on the floor of the Atlantic was released in February.
The footage from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was shot about 2 miles (3 km) below the ocean's surface, just months after explorers found the wreckage in 1985. Most of it has not been previously released to the public.
Since the discovery, several documentaries about the Titanic have shown footage of the wreckage scene. Some brief clips of the original dives have been aired, but Wednesday will see the release of a longer 80-minute video of uncut footage on YouTube.
The release of the footage "marks the first time humans set eyes on the ill-fated ship since 1912 and includes many other iconic scenes," the WHOI said.
During 11 dives in July 1986, footage was shot by cameras on a human-occupied submersible and a small remotely operated vessel that maneuvered through tight spaces.
Reuters contributed to this report.