Titanic expedition to create 3D map of wreck

Next month a team of scientists will launch an expedition to the Titanic to assess the deteriorating condition of the wreck and create a detailed three-dimensional map that will “virtually raise the Titanic.”

Next month a team of scientists will launch an expedition to the Titanic to assess the deteriorating condition of the wreck and create a detailed three-dimensional map that will “virtually raise the Titanic.”

The 20-day expedition is to leave St. John’s, Newfoundland, on August 18 under a partnership between RMS Titanic Inc., which has exclusive salvage rights, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. The expedition will probe a two-by-three-mile debris field where hundreds of thousands of artifacts remain scattered. Organizers say the new scientific data and images will ultimately be accessible to the public.

RMS Titanic made the last expedition to site in 2004. “We believe there's still a number of really exciting mysteries to be discovered at the wreck site,” says Chris Davino, president of and CEO of Premier Exhibitions and RMS Titanic. “It's our contention that substantial portions of the wreck site have never really been properly studied.”

The scientists want to get the best assessment yet on the two main sections of the ship, which have been subjected to fierce deep-ocean currents, salt water, and intense pressure. The expedition will also seek a full inventory of the ship's artifacts.

Bill Lange, a Woods Hole scientist who will lead the optical survey and will be one of the first to visit the wreck, said a key analysis will be comparing images from the first expedition 25 years ago and new images to measure decay and erosion. 

“We're going to see things we haven't seen before,” he says. “Technology has really evolved in the last 25 years.”

The Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on its maiden voyage on April 15, 1912, leaving more than fifteen hundred people dead. Oceanographer Robert Ballard and an international team discovered the Titanic in 1985.

The Titanic Memorial Cruise sets sail on April 8, 2012.