‘Incredible’ icy dip between two continents in Iceland

3.1 Diving
Snorkelers are pictured in the main Silfra fissure on July 26, 2022 in Thingvellir, Iceland. (Photos: AFP)
In between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, Iceland’s Silfra fissure is one of the world’s most famous dive sites, popular with tourists who venture into its icy waters.اضافة اعلان

Visibility underwater can exceed 100m and the spectacle of light and darkness is hypnotic.

“When we entered the water, it was ...,” says Icelandic tourist Brynjolfur Bragason before pausing.

“Incredible,” adds his wife Hildur Orradottir.

In the heart of Thingvellir National Park, on the edge of one of Iceland’s largest lakes, corridors of submerged rocks form deep cavities in between the two continents, which move away from each other by about two centimeters every year.

The orange reflections are mixed with various shades of blue in the more than 60m-deep rift, located in the southwestern part of the Atlantic island.

This handout picture taken underwater shows a snorkeller observing the fissure underwater on July 26, 2022 in Thingvellir, Iceland. 

The beige sand and the phosphorescent green of the algae add to the colors.

“It looks like hair,” says Camille Lund, a French-American tourist.

‘Tingling’ feeling
The fissure and the entire surrounding valley lie on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs through the island, making it one of the most active volcanic areas on Earth.

Silfra was formed by an earthquake more than two centuries ago as a result of a tectonic drift, and the clear waters come from the nearby Langjokull glacier, the second largest ice cap in the country.

Water travels for several decades through a tunnel of underground aquifers around 50km long.

“This whole filtration system through the volcanic rocks... gives us super clear water,” Thomas Gov, a diving instructor from Toulouse in the south of France, told AFP.

Taking a dip in Silfra requires a lot of preparation: dry suit, diving gloves, swimming hat, mask, snorkel, and fins.

The equipment allows you to stay dry and float peacefully on the surface in water that stays between 2–3° Celsius all year round.

Only part of the face and hands are exposed to the icy water.

“You can feel it in your lips right away: they go numb after a while and they are like tingling,” says New Yorker Ian Zavatti, 13, standing next to his father.

Snorkeling is the most popular activity, but the more experienced and certified can dive with a scuba tank to a depth of 18m.

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