Silfra Fissure: The Crack between the North American and Eurasian continents

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The Silfra fissure is a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, a unique place where scuba divers can touch both continents at the same time deep beneath the surface of the water. The continental plates are drifting apart at a rate of approximately 2cm per year, slowly widening the gap and increasing the beautiful space the Silfra fissure covers.

What makes the Silfra fissure extraordinary is not just its location, but the fact that divers can see over 100 meters through the crystal clear waters. The water is a cool few degrees above freezing all throughout the year and is filtered through porous underground lava rocks for 30-100 years before appearing in the fissure. The water originates in one of Iceland’s glaciers and the water, once it reaches the Silfra, is completely safe to drink.

The ecosystem of the Silfra fissure is highly diverse, featuring many different kinds of brightly colored sea life. Most of the fish that live in the rivers and lakes near the fissure ever make it into the deeper parts of the cave system, but this lack of marine life is made up for by the brightly colored ‘sea grass’ that carpets the Silfra fissure with neon green tendrils.

The view from above: Silfra canyon, Þingvellir National Park, Suðurland, Iceland.  Photo: Diego Delso, 2014.
The view from above: Silfra canyon, Þingvellir National Park, Suðurland, Iceland. Photo: Diego Delso, 2014.

Divers can take advantage of a great underwater playground when they explore the main areas of the Silfra fissure, from the Big Crack to Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral to the Silfra Lagoon. The Silfra Cathedral features high lava walls and the Silfra Lagoon waters that are perfect for seeing the abundance of life thriving in the fissure. The cave system is accessible to divers accompanied by a local guide, and some areas are perfect for snorkelling and swimming. Silfra is part of the Thingvellir National Park located in Iceland and is one of the country’s natural wonders, in addition to being a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Scuba diver exploring the Silfra. Photo: Thomei08, MediaWiki Commons, 2012.
Scuba diver exploring the Silfra. Photo: Thomei08, MediaWiki Commons, 2012.

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