The Iceberg That Sank the Titanic Was Oddly Persistent

It lasted far longer than most icebergs survive
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2022 9:30 AM CDT
The Iceberg That Sank the Titanic Was an Anomaly
A 3D illustration of the Titanic.   (Getty Images / MR1805)

It could be argued that the Titanic was the most incredible ship to ever sink. The same adjective could be applied to the iceberg that sank it. Writing for Smithsonian, Daniel Stone dives into what was unusual about this particular iceberg, which cleaved itself from Greenland in 1909. "This iceberg was more than two miles wide and one hundred feet tall at its birth, big enough to dwarf the Colosseum in Rome and all the pyramids put together," writes Stone. Then it begin to melt, except this one didn't melt on the typical schedule. Generally, icebergs move from the Arctic south via the Labrador current, encounter the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and melt within a year.

Some manage to make it two years. The Titanic wouldn't make contact with this one for three years. Stone explains just how wild that is. "Only 1% of northern hemisphere icebergs survive" the area where the Labrador current and the Gulf Stream connect, "and finally, only one in several thousand would make it to 41 degrees north, the same latitude as New York City and directly in the path of transatlantic ships." The other incredible part isn't just that the iceberg had persisted, but that it barely persisted: What took down the Titanic only had another week or two of life left, writes Stone, as it was rapidly shrinking as it moved into warmer water. Timing, in this case, was everything. (Read the full piece here.)

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