Amazing Places

You Can Take A Dive Between The Continents

Diving into or snorkeling above the Silfra rift in Iceland puts explorers directly between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. And if swimming between two continents isn't enough of a draw, the water's visibility is also an attraction: visitors are able to see through the crystalline depths for more than 100 meters. The glacial water is so pure that divers can literally take a gulp of it at any time. The only drawback? It's cold. Really cold. Usually around -4°C.

The Longest Mountain Range in the World

If you're thinking of taking a trip to Iceland to dive the Silfra rift, it's beneficial to understand what it is that's actually happening at one of Earth's most fascinating natural sites. To start, we need to get to know the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the world's longest mountain range that runs underneath (for the most part) the Atlantic Ocean from Greenland to the South Atlantic. While most of it is like we said, underneath the ocean, the ridge in some areas rises so high above sea level that it creates islands such as Iceland.

But how was the world's longest mountain range formed? The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is the area where the two tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia come together. When the plates began to drift apart 150 million years ago, magma pushed upward and settled on the cold water, forming the ridge we have today. The plates still continue to drift at .75 in (2cm) per year, putting a strain on the land in between and causing earthquakes every decade. The result? Deep cracks like the Silfra Rift - a unique fissure that due to its location near an underwater spring and the Langjökull Glacier, also happened to fill up with crystal clear, freezing cold water.

Touch Two Continents at Once

The greatest part about being able to dive over this natural wonder is that you can literally touch two continents at once while swimming between the two plates. Tour companies like Dive.Is and Scuba.Is offer dive trips over Silfra, but require dry suit certification - experience with a particularly constrictive suit which covers the entire body and prevents any water from entering. Rated one of the top 10 dives in the world, a trip to Silfra offers a look at mystical rock formations, fascinating colors, and geological significance you can't see anywhere else on earth. This should definitely be on your bucket list.

Diving In The Silfra Fissure

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Located in western Iceland, the Silfra rift separates the North American and Eurasian continents. 00:04

  2. Wearing a double-layered dry suit protects divers against the icy waters of the Silfra rift. 00:18

  3. Get an underwater view of the Silfra rift, where divers and snorkelers can see for more than 100 meters in any direction: 00:40

Written by Curiosity Staff July 10, 2015

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