An ambitious digital imaging project has produced what researchers describe as a “digital twin” of the R.M.S. Titanic, showing the wreckage of the doomed ocean liner with a level of detail that has never been captured before.
The project, undertaken by Magellan Ltd., a deepwater seabed mapping company, yielded more than 16 terabytes of data, 715,000 still images and a high-resolution video. The visuals were captured over the course of a six-week expedition in the summer of 2022, nearly 2.4 miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, Atlantic Productions, which is working on a documentary about the project, said in a news release.
The researchers used two submersibles, named Romeo and Juliet, to map “every millimeter” of the wreckage as well as the entire three-mile debris field. Creating the model, which shows the ship lying on the ocean floor and the area around it, took about eight months, said Anthony Geffen, the chief executive and creative director of Atlantic Productions.
“We’re now going to write the proper science of the Titanic,” he said.
Previous images of the wreckage, which was found less than 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in 1985, suffered from low light and murky water. The new images have effectively removed the ocean water, allowing the wreckage to be viewed in “extraordinary detail,” Atlantic Productions said, noting that a serial number can be seen on a propeller.
The Titanic, the largest passenger ship 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 perished, have remained a mystery every since.
The models offer new details about the shipwreck that hadn’t previously been known, Mr. Geffen said. For example, he said, one of the lifeboats was blocked by a jammed metal piece and couldn’t be deployed.
The submersibles captured images of personal artifacts, such as watches, top hats and unopened champagne bottles, that were strewn across the debris field. Experts hope they will be able to match personal items to Titanic passengers using artificial intelligence, Mr. Geffen said. He added that people someday would also be able to witness the shipwreck through virtual reality and augmented reality.
“In accordance with tight regulations in place, the wreck was not touched or disturbed,” Atlantic Productions said, adding that the site was treated “with the utmost of respect, which included a flower-laying ceremony in memory of those who lost their lives.”
“This was a challenging mission,” Richard Parkinson, Magellan’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “In the middle of the Atlantic we had to fight the elements, bad weather and technical challenges to carry out this unprecedented mapping and digitalization operation of the Titanic.”