An ambitious digital imaging project has produced what researchers describe as the “digital twin” of the RMS Titanic, showing the wreckage of the stricken ocean liner with a level of detail not captured before.
The project, carried out by Magellan Ltd. Inc., a deep seafloor mapping company, has collected more than 16 terabytes of data and 715,000 still images and high-resolution video. The visuals were captured over the course of a six-week expedition in the summer of 2022, approximately 2.4 miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, Atlantic Productions, which is working on a documentary about the project, said in a press release.
The researchers used two submersibles, called the Romeo and Juliet, to map “by millimeter” the wreck as well as the three-mile debris field. Anthony Geffen, CEO and creative director of Atlantic Productions, said it took about eight months to create the model, which shows the ship lying on the ocean floor and the surrounding area.
“Now we’re going to write the proper science for the Titanic,” he said.
Previous images of the wreck, which was found less than 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in 1985, have struggled with low light and murky waters. Atlantic Productions said the new images effectively removed ocean water, allowing the wreck to be seen in “extraordinary detail”, noting that the serial number can be seen on the propeller.
The Titanic, the largest passenger liner built at the time, sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Many details of the disaster, in which more than 1,500 people died, have remained a mystery ever since.
Geffen said the models provide new details about the wreck that were not previously known. For example, he said, one of the lifeboats was blocked by a jammed piece of metal and could not be deployed.
The submarines took pictures of personal artifacts, such as watches, top hats, and unopened champagne bottles, which were strewn across the debris field. Experts hope they can match the personal items of Titanic passengers using artificial intelligence, Mr. Geffen said. He added that one day people will also be able to view the shipwreck through virtual and augmented reality.
“In accordance with the strict regulations in place, the wreck has not been touched or disturbed,” Atlantic Productions said, adding that the site was treated “with the utmost respect, including the laying of flowers in memory of those who lost their lives.”
“This was a challenging task,” Richard Parkinson, Magellan’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “In the middle of the Atlantic, we had to battle the elements, inclement weather and technical challenges to carry out this unprecedented process of mapping and digitizing the Titanic.”