Image for The Titanic iceberg is steered into the shipping lanes

The Titanic iceberg is steered into the shipping lanes

Duration: 03:46

Once they have reached the open ocean, icebergs are pushed around by deep ocean currents. In 1911 the Titanic iceberg would have been picked up on the powerful west Greenland current.

Instead of drifting towards the shipping lanes and the fatal collision site, it was steered in entirely the opposite direction - north, toward the arctic. In these early stages of its journey it would have seemed no threat to anyone.

At the polar ice cap the West Greenland current curls, and turns south. It dragged the Titanic iceberg with it down the north-eastern coast of Canada. Even now, the Titanic iceberg would have been huge. The above water ice alone would have rivalled the Colosseum in size. Eight weeks before its meeting with the world's most famous ship it was moving south at a rate of twelve miles per day.

The iceberg's route south was far from plain sailing. A ragged, rocky shelf fingering out from the Newfoundland coast snares many passing icebergs, which end up melting along this coastline. The Titanic iceberg could easily have met a similar fate, but the deep Labrador current pulled it wide of the coast and continued to control its journey south.

By now the warming temperatures were taking their toll. The ancient snowflakes at its centre were still at minus 20 degrees centigrade, but its surface was being eaten away by sun and sea and this would change its behaviour radically.

Available since: Tue 24 Apr 2012

Credits

Series Editor
Tim Martin
Narrator
Sean Barrett
Producer
Cluny South
Series Editor
Tim Martin
Narrator
Sean Barrett
Producer
Cluny South

This clip is from

Natural World 2005-2006, The Iceberg That Sank the Titanic

Documentary looking at the neglected aspect of the Titanic story - the iceberg.

First broadcast: 07 Apr 2012

Image for The Iceberg That Sank the Titanic Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.