Large image texture crashes.

So I’ve run into a bit of a snag that has me at odds with Blender right now:
I have a project that I’m working on which requires a set of very large image textures. Now I have been trying to solve the problem of using one large file (which Blender rejects outright). When I try to load this file into the viewport, Blender immediately dies, not crashes, dies. As though the process was killed, further investigation led me to find that the error was a “Exception Code: c0000005” in Windows which is Blender trying to access the RAMs “no man’s land.” In my estimation it just could not handle the decompression of the large file, accessed the memory incorrectly and got stopped by Win7 as an access violation. That being said… I still need (<–read ‘want’ if you must) to use these larger textures with better color depth, rather than downsize into a crappy .jpg compressed file at half the resolution I need (again ‘want’) to work with here…
So questions #1 & #2

  • Does Blender have an image size limit, both on file size and HxW pixel dimensions?? - i.e. what is the most ridiculously sized image both in file size and pixel density that can be used as an image texture in Blender??
  • What is the color bit-depth limit in Blender (i.e 8bit, 16bit)

Now I have broken this image down in Gimp to manageable squared tiles and have seamed my mesh for this, yet, even with the smaller size tiles of the image, Blender crashes the moment I load more than one of the textures.
So question #3

  • As there seems to be an aggregate limit of memory allowed to be used by image textures, what is that limit??

The tiles I’m working with are 21600x21600 and 8 are required (they are 8bit .PNGs at the moment) each weighing in at about 30MB a piece. The large image texture is a 16 bit monster 86400x43200 at about 250MB. I know this has been an issue as I’ve read that the ToS team had some issues with image texture sizes. I didn’t want to report this as a bug unless I had some technical data about these limits inside Blender. I have not been able to find any definitive answers in any of the specs and have searched the bug reporter, and the forums here to no avail also.

In advance of any assistance,