The swiftnessof the actual dissolution of the Titanic is very surprising and this reportstates that it will be a done deal in most of our lifetimes. Needless to say, all the iron that sankthroughout the twentieth century will experience the same fate.
Even on land,buried iron has a similar lifespan. Ihave dug up metal posts decades old and they crumpled in my hands. It takes unusual conditions to preserve ironfrom the effects of bacteria.
At least thiswill give us a real time line for all sunken vessels that is reliable. We are at the century mark for the Titanicand a mere twenty or so years will largely finish it off, plausibly leaving afew heavy parts a few additional decades.
First it was an iceberg, now it's bacteria:Rust-eating species 'will destroy wreck of Titanic within 20 years'
By GRAHAM SMITH
Last updated at 1:00 PM on 12th January 2011
Scientists believe preserving shipis 'impossible'
Thewreck of the Titanic will be nothing more than a rust stain on the bed of the
Atlantic within 15 to 20 years, scientists warned today.
Anewly-discovered species of rust-eating bacteria is slowly consuming the 50,000tons of iron that makes up the sunken liner.
Expertsnow believe the invasive group of micro-organisms will eventually cause theshipwreck to completely decompose.
Disintegrating:A newly-discovered species of rust-eating bacteria will have consumed theTitanic on the bed of the
North Atlanticwithin 20 years
Identifiedusing DNA technology, the bacteria and has been found on clumps of rust - knownas rusticles - that have covered Titanic's iron hull in the century since itsunk in 1912.
Thebacteria - Halomonas titanicae - is said to be fast consuming the rust and theiron.
Consequently,scientists believe the wreck - that is in two separate sections - will benothing more that a huge 'rust stain' on the seabed within 20 years.
HISTORY OF THE TITANIC
Dubbed the 'unsinkable' ship, the Titanic famously struck aniceberg and sank in under three hours on April 15, 1912, killing more than1,500 passengers and crew.
It lay unseen on the ocean floor for decades, until 1985,when an American-French expedition identified its final resting place 329 milessouth-east of
The wreck, which was split into two sections 2,000ft apart,has now been the focus of research by scientists and historians for 25 years.
Thediscovery is the result of two decades' worth of research on themicro-organisms on Titanic, which sank in the
North Atlantic on her maiden voyage.
It wasmade by Dr Henrietta Mann and Bhavleen Kaur from
Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in conjunction with researchersfrom the University of Sevilla, . Spain
Dr Mann,adjunct professor with the department of civil engineering, said: 'I thinkTitanic has maybe 15 or 20 years left. I don't think it will have too muchlonger than that.
'It hasalready lasted for 100 years, but eventually there will be nothing left but arust stain on the bottom of the
Thebacteria was discovered in rusticles collected from the wreck of by a team ofscientists in 1991.
Dr Mannand her team began studying them in 1995, but it is only within the last fewyears that DNA technology has progressed enough for the bacteria to be isolatedand studied fully.
Therusticles - porous, dark orange, icicle-like structures that form on rustingiron - covered the metal surface of Titanic and are home to a host ofmicro-organisms.
Thisincludes 27 strains of bacteria, from which Halomonas titanicae was isolatedand found to be particularly partial to iron.
Itsdestructive tendencies mean the delicate rusticles will eventually disintegrateinto a fine powder in the salt water.
Thedestructive tendencies of the Halomonas titanicae bacteria mean the delicaterusticles will eventually disintegrate into a fine powder in the salt water
Dr Mannsaid: 'The rusticles on Titanic are made from a composition of differentmicro-organisms. It's not just one species of bacteria munching on it.
'But wehave now identified one which particularly likes eating iron.
'Toexplain it in human terms, not every type of bacteria has the same taste. So ifyou present different people with a plate of chocolate and cheese, some mayprefer one and some the other.
'This isa type of bacteria which particularly likes eating iron.
'Natureis very clever, and everything is recalled eventually. Nature makes it, andnature claims it back.
'In thiscase, the bacteria helps to decompose the ship.'
Whilethe preservation of Titanic is now thought to be impossible, it is hoped thediscovery could lead to scientists being able to prevent the destruction ofother iron structures.
Dr Mannsaid: 'Unfortunately, because Titanic is 2.3miles down, it is very difficult orimpossible to preserve. It is film which will preserve it for history now.
'I hopethat we are able to do more research into the bacteria. There are oil rigs,iron pipes and other iron structures in the ocean which may deteriorate in thesame way as Titanic.
'To comeup with certain things to prevent micro-organisms taking hold of them, orslowing down the process would be a useful thing.'
EdCoghlan, chairman of the Irish Titanic Historical Society, said: 'This researchbacks up what divers who have been down to the wreck have seen; that the shipis falling apart.
'Fortunatelyit has been photographed extensively and there are wonderful videos to show uswhat it looked like underwater.
'In thefuture, people might think it is a shame we didn't do more to preserve it, butthe reality is that to preserve it would cost an absolute fortune and isprobably almost impossible.
'It maybe that as the structure of the wreck disappears, more of the interior becomesaccessible.
'We maybe able to learn even more about Titanic once things like the mail bags, forexample, become visible.
'Titanicis a very human story and it will be fascinating to see what happens to thewreck in the coming years.'
It isnot yet known if the new species of bacteria was present on the RMS Titanicbefore or after it sank, or whether it is a unique strand to that particularwreck.
Dr Mannand her team have published their findings in the latest issue of theInternational Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.