Nature & Environment Nov 15, 2019

Diving the Silfra Fissure

Guest post by Dan Hagen

About an hour northeast of Reykjavik is the pristine, ethereal Silfra Fissure. It is a flooded trench between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe where you can literally swim between the continents. The glacial water is near freezing, clear and perfectly safe to drink. It is beautiful to see, and even more magnificent to dive through.

I booked my trip to the Silfra Fissure after watching a few videos from other travelers and learning more about its geology. Earlier that summer I spent a weekend getting drysuit certified. I then went back to my dive shop in Chicago to practice in their pool, specifically for this trip. By the time I left for Iceland, I was finally ready. The divemasters picked me up that morning and we drove for an hour into the country, past numerous mountains, pastures, horse ranches, and eventually the edge of Þingvellir National Park. We reached the flooded canyon at 8 am.

We suited up and got in at the entrance. When I descended beneath the surface, the drysuit kept me warm, but my face and hands got a rush of cold, similar to a brain freeze you might get from slurping down a milkshake. Thankfully, it didn’t last long. Soon I acclimated to the temperature. I followed our divemaster, Marie, into the blue canyon, immersed in gorgeous clear water beneath a ceiling of silver. Sunlight danced through the surface, refracting and shining on the rocks in rainbow colors.

Marie and I approached a narrow section where you can literally touch the land between North America and Europe. We swam through this passage and touched the canyon walls between the continents, creating a link between my homeland and that of my ancestors.

We went to the surface and took a shallow passage over to the next descent. My favorite section was the Cathedral, a 60ft trench that eventually reaches a sandy slope going up to the grassy shallows on the far end. You can see it from 100ft away, maybe even more. We turned left and entered the Silfra Lagoon, an open shallow area of silt and grass, slowly making our way to the exit platform amidst the sunlit water of the morning.

An hour later, we were driving back to the city. I looked out at the passing mountains, certain that I would remember the Silfra Fissure as a truly remarkable wonder of Iceland.

Check out a video from Dan’s trip below!

Diving the Silfra Fissure from Dan Hagen on Vimeo.

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