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... When the Titanic collided with the iceberg, the hull steel and the
wrought iron rivets failed because of brittle fracture
. A type of catastrophic failure in structural materials, brittle fracture occurs without prior plastic deformation and at extremely high speeds.
The causes of brittle fracture include low temperature, high impact loading, and high sulphur content
. On the night of the Titanic disaster, each of these three factors was present: The water temperature was below freezing, the Titanic was travelling at a high speed on impact with the iceberg, and the hull steel contained high levels of sulphur. ...