Tectonic plates don’t have a good reputation. Our immediate association is huge earthquakes and volcanoes spurting lava, shaking shit up and creating huge mountain ranges. But did you know there’s a plate limit in Iceland where you can actually swim – and it’s not only safe, but stunningly beautiful?
The Silfra Fissure in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park straddles the Eurasian and North American continental plates. Between them is a popular snorkeling and freshwater snorkeling site, and it’s so narrow that if you dive all the way to the bottom, you can actually get a hand on every continent.
The two sides of Silfra are moving away from each other at the rate of two centimeters each year. But the dive spot is not only renowned for its intercontinental novelty. Silfra’s water – glacial melt that has been filtered through porous lava – is incredibly pure. Divers can make out jagged rocks up to 100 meters away.
So what about the diving experience in Silfra? Well, for starters, it’s glacier water, so it’s very cold (between two and four degrees Celsius, FYI) and all snorkelers and snorkelers must wear dry suits. Unless you’re a qualified diver, you’re also restricted to snorkeling – the fissure is 60 meters deep, so only properly trained divers are allowed near the bottom.
Silfra is the only place in the world where you can swim between two tectonic plates. While it is true that there are many other underwater trench plate boundaries around the world, most of them are not only found in the middle of huge oceans, but very, very far below the surface.
If you fancy exploring Silfra on your own, it’s just over an hour by coach from the capital Reykjavik. Many travel packages offer day trips, including tours, dry suits, and snorkel gear. Do you want to know more? Go to the official Silfra website.
While we’re at it: did you know that Death Valley is full of mysterious moving stones?
And have you heard the one about the fire that has been raging in the Asian desert for 50 years?