Known for its geothermal hot springs, towering glaciers and black sand beaches, Iceland is rich with exotic excursions for tourists to explore while traveling abroad.
Located in the Thingvellir National Park, about 45 minutes outside Rejkjavík city, the Silfra fissure – a deep crack that separates the North American and Eurasian continents – is one of the world’s top diving destinations. The two massive tectonic plates have been slowly drifting apart at a rate of about two centimeters per year, opening the underwater world to curious explorers.
The Silfra fissure is actually somewhat of a geological wonder. Tension created between the two diverging plates triggers about one earthquake every ten years, causing subsequent cracks and fissures to form. In fact, divers can actually touch both continents at once in some of the fissure’s most narrow crevices.
The frigid glacial water of the Silfra fissure truly offers the dive of a lifetime. Hovering between two and four degrees Celsius year-round, the fissure is home to some of the clearest water in the world, with visibility extending over 300 feet in most parts.
This is largely because it is melt-water from the nearby Langjökull glacier, which is naturally filtered through porous underground lava over the course of 30 – 100 years. Because of this, divers are encouraged to take a drink of the fissure’s pristine water throughout their tour. What’s more is the different types of algae carpeting the fissure floors provide a breathtaking colors cape unlike anything that occurs naturally above the surface.
Since Silfra is part of a protected national park, diving in the canyon is only allowed for guided tour groups, run primarily from May through September. There are four main dive locations within the fissure: the Big Crack, Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral and the Silfra Lagoon. Equipped with a dry suit, snorkelers are able to hover above as divers plunge into the Big Crack and swim the narrow passageway between the two massive continental plates. Divers can then explore Silfra Hall, where the emerald green-colored algae and water clarity is said to be the most intense
And whether you choose to relax in the shallow lagoon or delve into the deepest parts of the water, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience at the Silfra fissure.
By Melonie Wang