Iceland is a fantastic place to travel to if you want to scuba dive between tectonic plates. The island is literally splitting in half on the Mid Atlantic Ridge which is a divergent boundary that can be found between the plate of Eurasia and the plate of North America.
North America is moving towards the west, and Eurasia is moving towards the east. Because of this, new crusts are being created on either side of the boundaries.
Photo Credit: r.gielen
This means additional mass is added to Iceland, but it also means that there is a rift. At some point in the future, Iceland will actually split into two separate pieces of land but luckily before this happens, divers have the opportunity to dive between these tectonic plates which is a dream come true for many.
Tectonic Plates Shifting in Thingvellir National Park
If you want to really experience scuba diving between tectonic plates in Iceland, you must visit Thingvellir National Park. The gully here is called the Silfra gully and is only a short drive from Reykjavik.
In this gully, you will be able to witness the two continents that seem to be colliding but are in fact moving apart because of the shifting tectonic plates.
Make sure you have some very good quality thermal insulated diving gear though because to say the water in Iceland is cold would be the understatement of the year.
Before you begin to dive many checks will be performed on both you and your equipment to make sure that everything is okay. You will then have around 45 minutes to explore this fantastic area.
You will come across narrow tunnels, sometimes as little as two meters wide. Amazingly, the water is incredibly clear and visibility is fantastic. Divers have reported being able to see for at least 100 meters, which is exceptional of course.
The reason the water is so clear is because it is completely pure. It emanates from a glacier that is melting and being filtered by fields of lava before emerging in Thingvellir Lake by way of underground wells.
It is truly an untouched part of nature and you will really be able to experience all the drama and the eerie scenes in all their majestic beauty. The tectonic plates themselves have very craggy and sharp edges and will appear to widen and narrow around you which is an experience in itself.
If that isn’t enough you should know that the water is incredibly blue; in fact it is said to be so blue that many people easily forget that there is a world above them. Doesn’t this sound like the experience of a lifetime?
Who Can Dive the Silfra?
The Silfra is a very challenging dive, particularly for those who have little to no experience with very cold waters. You need to be comfortable wearing dry suits that are also very heavy, particularly when you add all your other equipment into the equation.
However, if you do go ahead with it you will have an experience that you will never forget and it is definitely worth the temporary physical discomfort.
When to Go Scuba Diving Between Tectonic Plates
The weather in Iceland is known to be incredibly unpredictable, although you are likely to have some nice days during the summer.
However, unless you rent a car, you may want to consider travelling during the months of July or August as buses are not guaranteed to run during the other months of the year on account of the snow.
Photo Credit: gunnarpowers
This means that if you are renting a car, you need to be comfortable driving in ice and snow conditions.
Also, because of the northern position of Iceland, there is no real night time between mid May and early August which can be daunting if it’s not something you are used to.
If you choose to travel later on in the year try and make it between September and January. This is when you can see the Northern Lights and they really are a sight to behold.
Iceland is a country steeped in history and folklore and you are sure to be able to have a good time there. So take the opportunity to go scuba diving in Iceland.
You really will have an experience of a lifetime and one that will not be available forever. You are sure to have an absolutely awesome time! Enjoy!
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Blog written by: Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.