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Metallurgy of the RMS Titanic



Timothy J. Foecke


Metallurgical and mechanical analyses were performed on steel and rivet samples recovered from the wreck of the RMS Titanic. It was found that the steel possessed a ductile-to-brittle transition temperature that was very high for this type of steel, making the material brittle at ice water temperatures. This has been attributed to both chemical and microstructural factors. It has also been found that the wrought iron rivets used in the construction of Titanic contained an elevated amount of incorporated slag, and that the orientation of the slag within the rivets may hold an explanation for how the ship accumulated damage during its encounter with the iceberg.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6118
Report Number


forensics, fracture, historical metallurgy, manganese sulfide, mild steels, rivets, ships, Titanic, wrought iron


Foecke, T. (1998), Metallurgy of the RMS Titanic, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 13, 2024)


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Created February 1, 1998, Updated November 10, 2010