The first full-sized 3D reconstruction of the wreck of Titanic has been released, showing the ship in its entirety without the distortion of the water. The view was created by stitching together more than 700,000 scans of the site taken last year by deep-sea mapping company Magellan Ltd. They used remotely operated submersibles to capture images of the ship and debris field from every angle and covering every square inch of the vast site. The scans show everything from the giant stern and bow sections to individual shoes and Champagne bottles.
Magellan’s Gerhard Seiffert, who led the planning for the expedition, said it was the largest underwater scanning project he’d ever undertaken.
“The depth of it, almost 4,000m, represents a challenge, and you have currents at the site, too – and we’re not allowed to touch anything so as not to damage the wreck,” he explained.
“And the other challenge is that you have to map every square centimetre – 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.”
The scan shows both the scale of the ship, as well as some minute details, such as the serial number on one of the propellers.
The wreck of Titanic was discovered in September 1985 2.5 miles under the surface of the frigid North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland. A team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution returned to the site in July of 1986 with one manned submersible and one remotely operated vessel to film the interior and exterior of Titanic. Footage from the 1986 expedition was released for the first time earlier this year.
Since then, the wreck has been explored repeatedly by submersibles, including private adventurers, and photographed in high definition. In 2010, when a team of archaeologists and oceanographers from RMS Titanic Inc. and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution returned to map the two main sections of the ship and the full debris field. The inky darkness of the deep water required that all film and photography be narrowly focused on small areas of the wreck. In 2012, the centennial year of the sinking of Titanic, National Geographic published beautiful new pictures of the wreck, composites created by stitching together thousands of photographs, scans and sonar images from the 2010 expedition.