Silfra fissure | The rift between the continents in Iceland – Europe and North America

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Basic Information

  • Located in Þingvellir National Park
  • The gap formed between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. 
  • One of the top five diving locations in the world, according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).
  • Only place in the world where you can swim between the continents. 
  • The water comes from Langjokull glacier.
  • Temperature around 2-4°C all year.
  • The cleanest and purest water in the world. You can look over 100 meters underwater. 

Silfra fissure is a gap formed between the North American and Eurasian plates on the divergent tectonic boundary. Simply saying, Silfra fissure in Iceland is the only location in the world where you can dive between two continents. The fissure is located in Þingvellir National Park, which is part of one of the most popular route in Iceland, the Golden Circle. This unique place is filled with fresh spring water, making it a famous spot for water-related sports activities, like snorkeling and diving. The breathtaking spot is one of the top five diving locations in the world, according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). It is because of the vibrancy that it offers throughout a dive or snorkeling.

What’s so Special about Silfra fissure?

Apart from the fact that it is the only place in the world where you can dive between two continents, there are many interesting things about Silfra fissure. The fissure is further deepening at the rate of two centimeters per year. Silfra fissure and Thingvellir National Park are famous for many such geological spectacles that will surprise you.

Around the end of the 19th century, a major earthquake happened in the Thingvellir area. Silfra fissure was one of the many fissures that surfaced around that time. It was the only one that filled with the glacial meltwater from Langjokull glacier, situated nearby. This is the reason why it is named ‘Silfra’, which translates to silvery. Silfra has such clean and pure water that you can look over 100 meters underwater. Such exceptional visibility is in itself a bliss. Some of the ravines, emerging from Langjökull glacier about 60 kilometers north, fill with water passing underground through the translucent lava fields in the region. As long as a century can be taken by the water to reach Silfra. The long filtration process is the reason why the water is crystal clear and drinkable.

The water temperature stays between 2-4 °C throughout the year. These temperatures remain the same because the natural spring travels underground and does not turn to ice at its base.

The fissure is divided into four sections – first is the deep Silfra Crack where the tourists can get their photographs clicked between the continents. The second part is the Silfra Hall, which is incredible. Then there are Silfra Cathedral and Silfra Lagoon. The vast deep blue world of Silfra offers stunning underwater visibility. You may not find any fishes in Silfra fissure but there are ample colorful marine algae that involve the highly-known bright green “troll hair.” The location is made special by multiple shades of gem-like blue and green. Blue is the last color that water absorbs. As you look ahead in the Silfra fissure, the experience will be surreal. With such clarity, you can see rainbows when the sun rays refract through the water when the weather is fine.

Thingvellir National Park during autumn in Iceland

Snorkeling in the Fissure

Snorkeling at Silfra is a fun sport. Explorers from around the world come to experience this. Usually, Snorkeling is conducted in a dry suit. You have to wear an under suit beneath to keep the body free from water and insulated against the cold. This makes swimming in the freezing temperature a lot easier. Some tours also allow the tourists to go in the waters wearing a wetsuit. Though wetsuits provide you flexibility, they are not as warm. All the gear is provided on the site. You must be over 16 and able to swim. The acceptable height and weight for snorkeling are 145 centimeters and 45 kilograms respectively. A medical waiver is required if you are over 60.

Northern lights over thingvellir national park in the golden circle in Iceland

Diving in Silfra

Diving in Silfra fissure is as exotic as snorkeling. You can look up from the waters and enjoy the sun. While the experience is highly enjoyable, it comes with certain restrictions. You have to be a qualified diver with a certification in a dry suit specialty. Alternatively, you can show your qualification as a diver with at least 10 logged dives in a drysuit conducted over the past two years, signed by an instructor or divemaster.

The best conditions for snorkeling and diving are there from June to September. The sunlight is better, provides enhanced visibility and the water feels warmer. You can stay underwater for a longer duration. The sports tours happen in winters too but the crowd is less due to the cold conditions.

Map of Silfra Fissure

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