Snorkelling Between the Continents

June 30, 2014

snorkeling in Silfra fissure

So this is what I was doing last week – snorkelling in Iceland’s Silfra fissure, which runs through a lava field in the place where the North American and European tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of 1-3 cm (~1 inch) per year. Apparently Sifra is on the top five list for snorkelers and divers, which is not surprising. In addition to the scientific coolness factor, the water is so clear, the visibility can be up to 100 meters – amazing views!

The lake is glacier fed, which is a synonym for “wow, that’s cold!” It’s just a couple of degrees above freezing… hence the bulky (but toasty warm) dry suit I’m wearing. Unfortunately the dry suit doesn’t cover hands or head. Those got neoprene wet suits, which have the approximate insulative power of tissue paper. By the time we got out of the lake (after about 30 minutes), my face felt like I’d just come from the dentist. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, though, despite the discomfort.

What about you? What scientific coolness have you experienced during your travels? What trips or other assorted summer fun do you have planned this year?


3 Comments on ‘Snorkelling Between the Continents’

  1. That’s the only picture you can share? Sounds incredible. How long has it been pulling apart at that rate – sounds dangours for for it to be moving that fast. ( an inch a year sounds fast to me)

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    1. Oh, I have lots of other photos! I’ll have them with me at RWA, in fact, so I will share then. 🙂

      I’m not sure on the time frame for the separation, but the lake is in a fairly wide valley, so I’m guessing in the 10-100s of thousands of years range. There are a lot of earthquakes in Iceland, but apparently they are usually below 2 on the Richter scale.

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  2. Dang it – That should be dangerous…can’t find a way to edit it. sorry

    Reply | 

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