Fissure diving in Iceland

Diving Silfra Fissure in Lake Thingvallavatn Iceland

Crossing continents – divers explore a unique geological site where two tectonic plates meet.

The Silfra Fissure in Iceland is a submerged rift on the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

The plates in the fissure, in Lake Thingvallavatn in the Thingvellir National Park, are so close together that at times divers can touch both geological continents at once.

Diving instructor Brandi Mueller, 31, photographed the cold, clear water between the two continents.

She said: “You dive into the fissure and before you know it you are in another world. I had lots of thoughts running through my mind. I wondered what would happen if there was an earthquake and I was left stuck between the two plates.”

The rift has become a major attraction for scuba divers due to the high visibility in the water. Submerged divers can see as far as 300 metres in front of them.

When Miss Mueller dived the rift, the water was a chilly three degrees celsius.

Miss Mueller, of the Marshall Islands, said: “It is so clear it doesn’t feel like you are in water. I had to wear a dry suit and several layers and it was still freezing.

“It is one of the strangest places I have ever dived.”

Lake Thingvallavatn, in the south-west of Iceland, is home to many fissures caused by earthquakes.

Every year the tectonic plates drift further apart by two centimetres. The builds up tension within the rocks, leading to major earthquakes.

The earthquakes cause the rock to crack, creating fissures. Silfra is one of the largest in Iceland.

The water in the fissure is actually 30 to 100 years old – due to a strange geological quirk.

Above the lake is the Lángjökull glacier. Melting ice from the glacier once ran through a river, directly into the lake.

A few thousand years ago a volcano, Skjáldbreiður, erupted and masses of lava blocked the river.

Melting ice from the glacier now has to trickle through the porous rock – meaning it takes a drop of water 30 to 100 years to travel the 50 kilometres to Lake Thingvallavatn.

Diving between two tectonic plates
Lake Thingvallavatn in the Thingvellir National Park
Silfra Fissure in Lake Thingvallavatn

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

If you want to sell your photographs to the press, see our information for photographers

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