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A Second Titanic Disaster?



Just in case you missed the movie, the legendary ocean liner RMS Titanic--touted as "unsinkable"--met a tragic fate during its maiden voyage Noun 1. maiden voyage - the first voyage of its kind; "in 1912 the ocean liner Titanic sank on its maiden voyage"
ocean trip, voyage - an act of traveling by water
 in 1912. On April 14, the ship struck an iceberg and sank to its watery grave 3,785 meters (2.4 miles) below the icy North Atlantic Ocean North Atlantic Ocean

The northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, extending northward from the equator to the Arctic Ocean.
, killing 1,502 passengers.

Now scientists fear a second disaster: The sunken wreck is decaying rapidly and may collapse like an accordian within months--sealing the fate of hundreds of artifacts artifacts

see specimen artifacts.
 (historic objects) that include precious jewels and antiques.

Last August, RMS Titanic, Inc.--the only company authorized to retrieve Titanic artifacts--embarked on a $5 million expedition to salvage treasures from inside the ship's hull. "The clock is ticking," says company president Arnie Geller. "Ocean microbes will soon devour the ship's steel for all eternity." Using the 3-seat Russian submarine Mir-l, equipped with robotic arms, the company has already retrieved about 500 artifacts.

The Titanic has resisted erosion for nearly 80 years, so why its sudden demise? The bottom of the deep ocean is a hostile environment, explains Geller. Over time, man-made objects are consumed by bacteria (single-celled organisms), eroded by sediments (rock particles formed from debris), and corroded cor·rode  
v. cor·rod·ed, cor·rod·ing, cor·rodes

v.tr.
1. To destroy a metal or alloy gradually, especially by oxidation or chemical action: acid corroding metal.
 by salt and acids. Long icicle-like daggers made of rust--called "rusticles"--blanket the Titanic's massive steel bow (front section). Scientists estimate iron-eating bacteria have eaten nearly 20 percent of the bow.

Hungry microbes aren't the only cause of the Titanic's deep-sea destruction. At nearly 4 km below the sea surface, every square centimeter of the ship is subjected to 305 kilograms (4,338 pounds per square inch Noun 1. pounds per square inch - a unit of pressure
psi

pressure unit - a unit measuring force per unit area
) of pressure, the force of seawater seawater

Water that makes up the oceans and seas. Seawater is a complex mixture of 96.5% water, 2.5% salts, and small amounts of other substances. Much of the world's magnesium is recovered from seawater, as are large quantities of bromine.
 crushing the wreck's thick steel plates. Seawater is 800 times heavier than air!

Not everyone supports Geller's expedition. "I think the Titanic's main body should be left undisturbed," says Titanic historian Tarn Tarn, department, France
Tarn (tärn), department (1990 pop. 343,400), S France, in Languedoc. Albi is the capital.
Tarn, river, France
Tarn, river, c.
 Stephanos in Jamaica Plain, Mass. "The sunken wreck is a memorial to the tragic event."

What's your opinion: Should artifacts from the ill-fated ocean liner be retrieved and preserved in museums, or left to rust in peace?
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Title Annotation:erosion is destroying the ship
Author:Dyer, Nicole
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Oct 16, 2000
Words:341
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