Iceland: Diving the Silfra Cracks
Towards the end of the dive you are forced almost to the surface to cross a shallow band of rock before dropping into the bright sandy lagoon. TECH SPEC: Nikon D7000, ISO800, 1/40S, f/7.1.
Words & pics Geoff Spiby
It’s billed as one of the best dive sites in the world. Which may seem odd because it’s a freshwater dive with almost no interesting visible life. But what makes diving Silfra Crack in the Thingvellir National Park extraordinary is that, by diving here, you’re in the space between two worlds. This is Iceland and here, the Eurasian and American continental plates are creaking apart from one another at two centimetres a year. The crack is a water-filled fissure between the two tectonic plates and there are places where it is possible to touch both plates at the same time.
And that’s to say nothing of the clarity of the water. Water filters for many years through the volcanic rock from a glacier 50 kilometres away and wells up into the widening gap between the plates. The 100-metre plus visibility is limited only by the quality of your mask. Think of all the flying dreams you ever had. That’s Silfra. Of course, the water is glacier melt, so it’s not all that cosy, clocking in at 2 degrees. Diving is in drysuits so some experience in drysuit diving is advised.
The best time of year to dive here is in the summer months when surface conditions are less challenging but you are more likely to encounter crowds of snorkelers and divers. We dived in winter and although it was overcast and gloomy most of the time, the only other divers we encountered underwater were a group of snorkelers, which passed rapidly overhead.
We dived with DIVE.IS which is a 5-star PADI Dive Centre. They will transport you from Reykjavik to the Thingvellir National Park, supply the drysuits, gloves and all diving gear. It's a double dive outing with hot chocolate to warm you up between dives. Visit their website at www.dive.is.
For more information email ([email protected]) or call 00354 663 2858. They are situated at Hólmaslóð 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland.
Lyn Spiby pauses momentarily before dropping into 2 degree water. Steps from a small platform lead down to the beginning of the Silfra Crack to make entry easier for the divers. TECH SPEC: Nikon D7000, ISO800, 1/60S, f/7.1.
A group of snorkelers flying overhead. A snorkel tour is offered for non-certified divers. TECH SPEC: Nikon D7000, ISO800, 1/40S, f/7.1.
Two world’s apart: Lyn hovering over our dive guide with the continents of Eurasia on her left and America on her right. TECH SPEC: Nikon D7000, ISO800, 1/25S, f/7.1.
Our non diving Icelandic friend nervously following our progress down the crack from a vantage point. TECH SPEC: Nikon D7000, ISO800, 1/200S, f/7.1.
Half way down the crack it opens up into a wider, deeper area known as the cathedral. TECH SPEC: Nikon D7000, ISO1000, 1/60S, f/5.6.
The dive ends in a shallow sandy lagoon. The water is so clear you can see clearly across to the far side 60 metres away. TECH SPEC: Nikon D7000, ISO800, 1/40S, f/5.6.
Source: The Dive Site