Titanic becoming fast food for bacteriaDecember 7th, 2010 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS
By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Dec 7 (IANS) The wreckage of the Titanic on the ocean floor will soon disappear as it is being fast eaten up by a newly discovered bacteria, according to Canadian researchers.
The Titantic, which was the largest passenger ship at the time, sank on its maiden journey from England to New York April 14, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in mid-Atlantic. Of the 2223 passengers on board, only 706 survived.
Henrietta Mann, a Canadian civil engineering professor at Dalhousie University, says the new bacterial species are eating away the wreckage so fast that soon the Titanic will be reduced to a “rust stain” on the ocean bottom.
“Perhaps if we get another 15 to 20 years out of it, we’re doing good…. Eventually there will be nothing left but a rust stain,,” she said Monday.
“In 1995, I was predicting that Titanic had another 30 years, but I think it’s deteriorating much faster than that now …” Using DNA technology, Mann and Bhavleen Kaur from Dalhousie University and researchers from the University of Sevilla in Spain identified a new bacterial species collected from rusticles from the Titanic wreck, a statement by the researchers said.
Dark orange in colour, a rusticle is a formation of rust similar in shape to an icicle or stalactite. The wreck is covered with the knob-like mounds, formed as a ‘consortium’ of at least 27 strains of bacteria, including Halomonas titanicae, makes a meal out of Titanic. But unlike icicles which are solid and hard, rusticles are porous and allow water to pass through. Indeed, they are rather delicate and will eventually disintegrate into fine powder.
“It’s a natural process, recycling the iron and returning it to nature,” said Mann who studies extreme environments.
The Titanic’s final resting was discovered by a joint American-French expedition in 1985, almost 73 years after its sinking. The wreck is located 3.8 kilometres below the ocean surface and some 530 kilometres southeast of Newfoundland (Canada).
The discovery confirmed that the ship had split apart as the stern and the bow were located 600 metres apart from each other and are facing in opposite directions, the statement said.
In the 25 years since the discovery of the wreck, Titanic has rapidly deteriorated, according to Mann.
Their research appears December 8 in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: april 14 1912, bacterial species, canadian researchers, dalhousie university, dark orange, dna technology, extreme environments, french expedition, maiden journey, newf, ocean bottom, ocean floor, ocean surface, passenger ship, rust stain, rusticle, rusticles, titanic wreck, titantic, wreckage