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HomeTravelA Place to go: Silfra, Iceland

A Place to go: Silfra, Iceland

Imagine existing in a place that felt unworldly—being able to be in-between places, rather than always being locked into one location. For once in your life, you can taste joy and feel beauty by the touch of a fingertip. You think to yourself, nowhere like that exists, but for once, you being wrong is an amazing thing.

In 1789, an earthquake that was caused by the North American and Eurasian plates resulted in the formation of the Silfra Fissure in Iceland. A fissure is a long and narrow opening caused by the splitting of plates. Silfra is a fissure filled with fresh spring water in Þingvellir National Park, and one of Iceland’s most cherished wonders.

Seismic activity is known to be most active along plate borders. These plates have divergent boundaries where they pull apart, which is why a Fissure was formed rather than a mountain range. A fissure is a long and narrow crack in the ground that forms where the ground is sinking or subsiding and can erode very rapidly. Each year the Silfra Fissure widens by 2 centimeters.

The Silfra Fissure is considered one of the top five dive sites in the world. Many divers dream of visiting Iceland for this wonder alone. What makes the Silfra Fissure special is surprisingly not marine life. Fish don’t often venture to Silfra Fissure due to the water temperature only ranging from 2-4 degrees Celcius. What attracts divers to this Fissure is the clarity of the water. The visibility can extend to over 100 meters (328 feet), allowing you to see the fissure’s walls and bottom. 

The ecosystem of Iceland plays a vital part in the clarity of the water. With its water originating from 60 Kilometers north at the Langjökull glacier, it can take the water up to a century to get to Silfra. As it moves towards the Fissure, the water gets filtered through approximately 50 Kilometers of lava rock. Making it come out surprisingly clear. 

Another contributing factor to the clarity of the water in the Fissure is again the frigid temperatures. Because the water travels underground, it maintains a constant temperature of two to three degrees Celsius and does not freeze over immediately at the source of the spring. As a result of the consistent temperature, diving tours are thus open year-round.

Tour guides claim that diving through the Silfra Fissure exposes the complexity and beauty of nature, adding to the allure of it all. Due to the cold water temperatures and the heaviness of scuba gear, divers need proof of knowledge about diving. Divers are required to either be a qualified diver with a certification in a drysuit specialty or be a qualified diver with at least 10 logged dives in a drysuit conducted over the past two years, with an instructor or divemaster’s signatures as a form of reliable evidence.

If you don’t have experience diving, they also offer snorkeling tours. However, they do have age and size restrictions. For all tours, you are required to wear neoprene on your head and hands to allow for better mobility, a mask and snorkel, and a pair of fins. The course of Silfra is said to take approximately forty minutes, and a gentle current flows requiring minimal energy to get to the other end of the Fissure. Adults ages 45 and up possibly require a medical waiver based on the specific person’s medical history. 

Could you see yourself submerged in the beauty that is the Silfra Fissure? Imagine your eyes widening in amazement as you see the depths of the earth in a way that you can only see in this one spot. You try to think to yourself how beautiful it is, but can’t fathom any words to match the mystic beauty that exists alongside yours. 



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