Tuesday, November 7, 2023
HomeUK TravelSnorkelling between tectonic plates at Silfra in Iceland's Thingvellir Nationwide Park

Snorkelling between tectonic plates at Silfra in Iceland’s Thingvellir Nationwide Park

Bear in mind these geography classes at college the place you learnt about continental drift and the motion of the earth’s crust? Iceland lies alongside the mid-Atlantic Ridge and exists due to the divergence of two tectonic plates – the North American plate and the Eurasian plate – and an excellent place to see this primary hand is at Silfra within the Þingvellir Nationwide Park. What’s extra, that is the one place on this planet the place you possibly can snorkel between two continents.

Silfra and the Þingvellir valley, located inside Iceland’s Golden Circle, have been shaped by the divergent tectonic drift of the the 2 plates which drift about 2 cm farther aside yearly. This builds pressure between the plates and the earth mass above which is relieved by means of periodic main earthquakes that happen at roughly ten yr intervals. These earthquakes create cracks and fissures and Silfra, which lies on the rim of the Þingvallavatn Lake, is without doubt one of the largest and deepest of those fissures.

This fissure is fed by meltwater from Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull, which seeps underground into porous basalta lava rock earlier than percolating by means of an aquifer over a interval of 30-100 years. This extremely filtered groundwater fills fissures such because the one at Silfra, making it exceptionally clear and of big enchantment snorkelers and scuba divers, significantly given the distinctive location between two tectonic plates.

There are a selection of firms that supply snorkeling and diving experiences.  We went with DIVE.is who’re one of many consultants for this specific exercise and the longest working dive and snorkel firm in Iceland. The method was fairly straight ahead – we simply turned up on the Silfra assembly level, had our reserving and disclaimers checked behind a van (it’s necessary for each DIVE.is participant to fill out their medical type), and we have been good to go. With sure medical situations comparable to coronary heart illness, epilepsy or lung illness, it’s sadly not potential to participate. With sure different medical situations comparable to bronchial asthma, hypertension, vertigo or most cancers, you possibly can solely take part for those who get medical clearance from a health care provider.

We have been then assigned a information who would accompany us on the snorkeling tour – in our case, a gentleman named Pau from Spain – earlier than being directed to a different van to get right into a drysuit.  Why all of the vans you would possibly surprise?  It’s as a result of Silfa is  a UNESCO World Heritage Space and new constructing constructions are usually not allowed within the space.

Along with a drysuit every, we have been after all kitted out with flippers, and a snorkel and masks, too. The flies generally is a little bit of a nuisance so you may also need to borrow considered one of their mosquito and midge head nets for those who discover them bothersome.

The go well with has seals on the neck and wrists that cease water from getting in. These will be tight and generally a further rubber strap must be worn across the neck. This may be fairly uncomfortable – for those who really feel it’s too tight, ask your information to verify it for you.

We have been additionally supplied with neoprene hoods and semi-dry neoprene gloves. Our heads and palms have been uncovered to the water by means of these however that was completely OK. A small a part of our faces weren’t lined by the hood and these have been the one elements of us that have been in direct contact with the water.

Snorkelers are launched in small batches, sometimes round six individuals plus a information, so there’s a brief queue as individuals wait to enter the water nevertheless it served as a possibility to have a household picture taken, even when it’s a wrestle to determine who’s who!

Though some operators supply this expertise in a wetsuit, DIVE.is barely present dry fits for the exercise. The one benefit I can consider for sporting a wetsuit can be that you simply’d be capable of dive down beneath the floor just a little which you’ll’t simply do in a dry go well with. Given that you’re within the water for 30-40 minutes and the water temperature is 2° Celsius, a dry go well with might be a greater possibility. No matter you select, it’s really useful that individuals have eaten breakfast or lunch earlier than the exercise due to the size of time spent within the chilly water.

As soon as your time involves enter the water, your information will discuss you thru the method. There’s a metallic staircase that leads straight into the water (you possibly can see it within the distance within the {photograph}) – we simply walked down these and, earlier than we knew it, we have been face-down within the water.  The very first thing that struck me wasn’t the chilly – it actually wasn’t that dangerous – however simply how clear the water was.  The water is extraordinarily pure and astonishly clear, and it’s estimated that the underwater visibility is greater than 100 metres… fairly unbelievable!

If in case you have learn different articles about Silfra, you might have seen individuals describe with the ability to outstretch their arms and contact each tectonic plates on the similar time after they dived.  That is slightly deceptive to say the least – or they’ve exceptionally lengthy arms – because the tectonic plates are 5 kilometres aside!  Bear in mind, this can be a fissure that’s shaped due to an earthquake because of the diverging plates.

As we drifted within the water, mesmerised by the underwater spectacle round us, Pau swam amongst our group taking pictures of us on a GoPro. If you wish to make your Silfra expertise an enduring reminiscence, you should purchase these as a part of your tour with DIVE.is and they’ll ship you a Dropbox hyperlink after the snorkeling tour so as to obtain the photographs to your system.

In the meantime, we continued to marvel on the perfectly-filtered crystal clear water which is presumably the clearest and most pristine water on the planet. As a result of the water is so clear, the sunshine performs upon the floor like glittering diamonds – on sunny days, the rays go to nice depths, even creating rainbows on the rocks as a result of the clear water refracts gentle in the identical manner that crystals do.

This can be a once-in-a-lifetime expertise that’s certain to be a spotlight of your time in Iceland!

You’ll not often see fish in Silfra however you will note various several types of algae, together with vibrant, neon inexperienced ‘troll hair’ algae that offers the rocks an impressive spalsh of color.


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In locations, Silfra is definitely surpisingly deep – as much as 63 metres deep – though only a few divers go to something like these depths.

There’s a slight present in Silfra and individuals should be comfy swimming towards it over the past a part of the tour, however it’s actually not that robust so manageable even for novice swimmers.

As soon as we lastly acquired on dry land, we have been equipped with scorching chocolate which was a really welcome pick-me-up after our time within the chilly water.

Planning a visit to Iceland your self? You’ll be able to watch a video from our journey to Iceland right here. You’ll be able to see footage from Silfra between 1m 26s and 1m 49s:

Disclosure: This put up is sponsored by DIVE.is. Our journey to Iceland was additionally sponsored by Helly Hansen.

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