• On April 10, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic set sail on a five-day journey across the North Atlantic Ocean, from Southampton, England, to New York City, New York. The Titanic was one of the biggest and most state-of-the-art ocean liners of its day. With all of the ship's safety measures, the Titanic was thought to be unsinkable. But on April 15, the Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg, tragically taking the lives of more than 1,500 passengers and crew.


    The Titanic had 16 watertight compartments, and the ship could stay afloat with up to four of these compartments flooded. After hitting the iceberg, water began flooding the Titanic's forward six compartments. Bulkheads, watertight walls in the compartments meant to keep water from flooding the rest of the ship, were not tall enough to contain the water in the damaged compartments. In just over two and a half hours, the Titanic filled with water and sank.


    On the deck, the Titanic's crew helped passengers into the lifeboats. The Titanic had only 20 lifeboats rather than the 48 that would have been necessary to save all the people onboard. (The Titanic's owners and the British Board of Trade thought that having too many lifeboats on deck crowded the deck and would make people believe the ship was unsafe.) Hundreds of people were thrown into the icy cold Atlantic water and died of hypothermia.


    While it was sinking, the Titanic radioed to other ships in the area but was only able to reach the R.M.S. Carpathia which was 93 kilometers (58 miles) away. The Carpathia arrived about four hours later, at 4:00 a.m., to rescue the estimated 705 survivors.

    1. According to the layer of the MapMaker Interactive, linked above, what was the sea surface temperature in the area where the Titanic sank?

      The temperature where the Titanic sank was slightly above freezing.

    2. Based on the ocean current layer of the MapMaker Interactive, was the current that pulled the iceberg into Titanic's path a cold or a warm current?

      The current that pushed the iceberg into the Titanic's path was a cold current called the Labrador Current.

    3. Describe how the Titanic sank using the downloadable PDF, Death of the Titanic.

      The Titanic sank by breaking in half between the second and third smokestack. The bow, which was already mostly under the water, sank right down to the bottom. The stern, which was nearly perpendicular when the ship split in two, corkscrewed down to the ocean floor as the ocean current carried it several miles away from the bow.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Arctic Noun

    region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Arctic
    iceberg Noun

    large chunks of ice that break off from glaciers and float in the ocean.

    Encyclopedic Entry: iceberg
    ice sheet Noun

    thick layer of glacial ice that covers a large area of land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ice sheet
    ocean Noun

    large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ocean
    Titanic Noun

    luxury cruise ship that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912.