April 14, 1912, 23:40

Four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, the RMS Titanic hits an iceberg.  Two hours & forty minutes later she's gone, along with 1500 people. We all know the details of the sinking ship, but what of the iceberg?

It certainly was the elder of the two, by about 30 centuries.  Born as falling snow on Greenland's west coast, it traveled further west towards the sea, compressing into dense ice.  After calving away from the glacier, it most likely traveled from Baffin Bay to the Davis Strait, to the Labrador Sea, to its rapid demise in the North Atlantic. 

The iceberg was remarkable in that it was found about 5,000 miles South of the Arctic Circle, which puts it in the 1% of the up to 30,000 icebergs calved each year by Greenland glaciers to even reach the Atlantic.

While 28-degree water proved quickly fatal to passengers, it wasn't enough to keep the iceberg solid for long.  With a calving-to-melting life expectancy averaging 2-3 years, the iceberg probably left Greenland 1910 or 1911, melting back to the sea rapidly.
One might think that's a lot to know about a long-melted chunk of ice, but it gets better when we discuss what are probably the only known before & after photographs of the actual iceberg that struck the Titanic.

 

Though there aren't any known photos of the actual iceberg taken on the day of the collision, there is this photo, which sold in 2012 for $25,200. This places it 2-3 days floating time away from where the ship sank.  The shape also matches sketches made by eyewitnesses who survived the tragedy, including the ship's lookout who first spotted ice on the horizon.

This photo, taken April 15 by the chief steward of German liner SS Prinz Adalbart.  Sailing just a few miles away, he hadn't yet known of the Titanic tragedy, but he did observe an iceberg with a red paint streak along the waterline; telltale signs of a very recent collision.

MINIA was one of the first ships to arrive at the scene of disaster, dispatched by White Star Lines to recover bodies and debris from the Titanic.  Captain de Carteret stated that this was the only iceberg near the site of the collision.  This photo earns more debate than the others, most likely due its resemblance or lack thereof (some argue that the iceberg has at this time flipped over, explaining the height of the line). There may have been other icebergs in that area, but how many? And with a red streak of paint (visible near midline) to boot?

Within one or all of the photos, is it likely we have a mugshot of the culprit responsible for such a disaster?   Though to be fair, it was just sitting there...

Via: user submitted

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