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‘Incredible’ icy bath between two continents in Iceland

#Incredible #icy #bath #continents #Iceland

Between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, Iceland’s Silfra fissure is one of the most famous dive sites in the world, popular with tourists who venture into its icy waters.

Underwater visibility can exceed 100 meters (330 feet) and the spectacle of light and dark is hypnotic.

“When we got in the water it was…” says Icelandic tourist Brynjolfur Bragason before pausing.

“Incredible,” adds his wife Hildur Orradottir.

In the heart of Thingvellir National Park, on the edge of one of Iceland’s largest lakes, corridors of submerged rocks form deep cavities between the two continents, which are drifting apart by about two centimeters each year.

In the more than 60 meter deep ditch in the southwest of the Atlantic island, the orange reflections mix with different shades of blue.

The beige sand and the phosphorescent green of the seaweed complement the colors.

“It looks like hair,” says Camille Lund, a French-American tourist.

– Tingling feeling –

The fissure and the entire surrounding valley lie on the mid-Atlantic ridge that cuts through the island, making it one of the most active volcanic regions on earth.

Silfra was formed more than two centuries ago by an earthquake resulting from tectonic drift, and the clear water comes from the nearby Langjokull Glacier, the country’s second-largest ice cap.

The water flows for several decades through an approximately 50-kilometer-long tunnel of underground aquifers.

“This whole filtration system through the volcanic rock … gives us super clear water,” Thomas Gov, a diving instructor from Toulouse in southern France, told AFP.

A swim in Silfra requires a lot of preparation: dry suit, diving gloves, swimming cap, mask, snorkel and fins.

The gear allows you to stay dry year-round and float peacefully on the surface in water that stays between two and three degrees Celsius (35.6 to 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Only part of the face and hands are exposed to the freezing water.

“You can feel it immediately on your lips: they go numb and tingly after a while,” says New Yorker Ian Zavatti, 13, standing next to his father.

Snorkeling is the most popular activity, but the more experienced and certified can dive to a depth of 18 meters with a scuba tank.

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