The wreck of the RMS Titanic is located about 370 miles (600 km) south-southeast of the coast of Newfoundland, lying at a depth of about 12,500 feet (3,800 m). Over the years since the sinking of the Titanic on 14/15 April 1912, many impractical, expensive and often physically impossible schemes have been put forward to raise the wreck from its resting place. They have included ideas such as filling the wreck with ping-pong balls, injecting it with 180,000 tons of Vaseline, or using half a million tons of liquid nitrogen to turn it into a giant iceberg that would float back to the surface.
Until 1 September 1985 the location of the wreck was unknown. Various expeditions tried using sonar to map the sea bed in the hope of spotting the wreck, but failed due to a combination of bad weather, technological difficulties and poor search strategy. The wreck was finally located, 13.2 miles (21.2 km) from the inaccurate position transmitted by Titanic's crew while the ship was sinking, by a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The key to its rediscovery was an innovative remotely-controlled deep-sea vehicle called Argo, which could be towed above the sea bed while its cameras transmitted pictures back to a mother ship.
The wreck lies in two pieces about a third of a mile (0.6 km) apart. The bow is still largely recognisable, though it is heavily damaged, and has been found to contain some surprisingly well-preserved interiors as well as many artifacts. The stern suffered catastrophic damage resulting from the stresses incurred by the sinking and its impact on the sea bed, and is now little more than a pile of twisted metal. A substantial section of the middle of the ship disintegrated and is scattered across the sea bed. A debris field covering about 5 by 3 miles (8.0 × 4.8 km) around the wreck contains hundreds of thousands of items spilled from Titanic as she sank, ranging from passengers' personal effects to machinery, furniture, utensils and coal. The bodies of passengers and crew once also lay in the debris field, but have been entirely consumed by sea creatures, leaving only their shoes lying together in the mud.
Titanic's wreck has been the focus of intense interest since its discovery and has been visited by numerous expeditions, including salvagers who have controversially recovered thousands of items to be conserved and put on public display. The wreck itself is far too fragile to be raised as it has severely deteriorated in the century that it has spent on the sea bed, with the deterioration accelerating since its rediscovery. It has been colonised by a wide variety of animals–including organisms new to science–and by great quantities of iron-eating bacteria, which have created "rusticles" covering the hull. The bacteria are gradually eating away the hull and will eventually reduce Titanic to a patch of rust on the sea bed, with the remaining scraps intermingled with her more durable fittings.