Iceland – Silfra Fissure – Featured Instagram Photo of the Week


Written by Shaun Swartz

Iceland – the land of fire and ice.

This week at the GB office we’ve been sharing stories images, and adventures from all around Iceland. Why? Because Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet! This week’s amazing Iceland photo is from the famed Silfra fissure. The Silfra fissure is a rift between two tectonic plates – the Eurasian and the North American plates – in which divers and snorkelers can, quite literally, explore the earth as it rips apart at a rate of approximately 2 centimeters per year.

Often referred to as, “the clearest water on earth,” Iceland’s Silfra fissure is the only place in the world where you can snorkel between two tectonic plates! The water that fills the fissure is spring-fed glacial melt and remains a constant 35 degrees Fahrenheit year round.


What makes the water so clear, you ask? The answer lies in Iceland’s hydrology. For thousands of years, meltwater from nearby glaciers would flow unimpeded into the Þingvallavatn Lake. The Skjaldbreiður volcano, however, obstructed this flow of glacial meltwater nearly 9,000 years ago during a massive eruption. This eruption created expansive lava fields directly in the path of the glacial meltwater, resulting in the formtion of small ponds.

Over time, the water from these small ponds began seeping into the porous lava rack below. As the water began to penetrate the lava rock aquifer, contaminants, debris, and sediment were filtered from the water before it eventually got pushed out as groundwater – the source of the springs that feed the Silfra fissure. This filtration continues today, a process which – according to geological surveys – can take upwards of 100 years to complete. The result? Arguably the world’s cleanest, purest potable water.

If we lost you somewhere back in the Neolithic period a few thousand years back, let’s recap: Enormous glaciers were melting and the water was flowing through Iceland when an insanely huge volcano exploded and sent molten lava spewing in all directions. The glacial meltwater that used to flow as a river ended up pooling in the lava fields made by the volcano, at which point it soaked into the ground and pushed through the cooled lava rock for about a hundred years before popping back out of the ground as some of the cleanest, clearest water on our planet. If this doesn’t redefine the word ‘awesome’ in your book then go back up to the top and start reading again. Iceland – the most beautiful, complex, metal place on the planet. Learn more about our Iceland volunteer programs today!

Ready to GoBeyond?