Author Topic: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland  (Read 1182 times)

Řivind Třien

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Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« on: September 26, 2018, 09:57:35 »

At my recent return from Europe to the US, I "had" to make stopover flight though Keflavik in Iceland.  :)  As this was my first visit to Iceland, to make the most of the one day without flight, I booked a "Golden Circle" bus tour that also included snorkeling in the the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park. http://www.silfra.org/index.html . The majority of this fissure opened as late as 1789 and receives a stream of water from an underground reservoir close to the Lángjökull glacier. It takes 30-100 years for this water to filter its way to the fissure through volcanic rocks, making it among the clearest water on earth, with a temperature of just 2°C. Due to continental drift between the North American and the Eurasian Tectonic Plates, this fissure keeps expanding with about 2cm per year. My trusty AW1 with the 10mm lens and the Olympus fisheye converter attached was of course with me.

First, the Thingvellir Park is a beautiful place in itself. No wonder the vikings chose this site for their "parliament" (Thing). The actual meeting place is behind us in this capture.
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The snorkeling was very well organized, everything except base layer provided, and guides making sure everyone got the drysuits properly donned, including straps here and there to keep the 2°C water out.
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The fissure actually starts inside the entry point. Down to the right there is an underwater cave going in the opposite direction (towards us) down to a depth of 63 meters. Between this pool and the entry point is the Toilet where a diver would descend to 16m and be flushed out by strong current through the narrow passage underneath the normal entry point.
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At the entry point guides make sure that snorkelers get their masks and fins properly put on. We are looking at the surface of The Hall which has passages going down to 45m.
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The start of The Hall.
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Looking down into the deep, dimensions are difficult to grasp...
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...without a diver in the image. We are now looking back at the entry point.
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After the hall comes a more shallow passage. Rocks has a golden color once one get close. The current is all the time helping, so one barely has to swim.
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After a 200m swim we are soon approaching The Cathedral.
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The beginning of The Cathedral; it is about 20m deep and 100m long. We are looking at closer to 100m visibility underwater!
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One might wonder what are those white spots in the distance. A 100% crop reveals a group of free-divers (using wet suits) at the other end of The Cathedral.
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Beautiful rocks make up the walls of The Cathedral.
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We are approaching the end of The Cathedral looking back.
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Rocks are not sterile, covered with algae.
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A smaller fissure from seismic activity at the exit point where we soon round an island towards the exit point.
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But first we swim through the crystal clear Blue Lagoon.
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A Japanese snorkeler is helped out of the water. Personally I kept warm and comfortable through the dive, not bothered by the 2°C water on my face at all. I had no problem operating the AW1 with the thick neoprene gloves. Some other snorkelers complained about cold hands.
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Finally a map showing the route through the Silfra fissure, around the square little island at the mid bottom into the Blue Lagoon. The GPS of the AW1 only registers for captures at the surface. We are at the north end of Thingvellir Lake.
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And then a map showing the rather large Thingvellir Lake and the Lángjökull glacier that during a warm up that melted part of the glacier was the source of the underground cold water that filters through the volcanic rocks, creating some of the clearest water on earth.
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Řivind Třien

Bent Hjarbo

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2018, 10:08:37 »
Impressive, I am not the snorkeling type, but this looks awesome, water that clean and clear must be rare.
The AW1 seems to be an ok camera ;)
Thanks for sharing.

Birna Rřrslett

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2018, 10:27:27 »
I can only add my kudos to what Bent wrote. Very impressive location and even more impressive water clarity. I have visited some extremely clear lakes in New Zealand, but transparency was "only" half of the Silfra.

A pity AW1 is no longer in production. I purchased a few extra of them, plus the lenses, to be able to keep AW1 running for a long while yet.

Řivind Třien

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2018, 21:49:00 »
Thanks Bent and Birna for the enthusiastic comments. It is one of those experiences that will be remembered for a very long time and has been on my list for years. In these times where the world is getting more and more polluted, it is so nice to experience a place as pristine as this.

I have long looked at possibly getting backup AW1 body, but have not found one at a price I liked. I am hesitant getting one off ebay for a product like this where one does not know the history. In the mean time I just try to take good care of it. Before this trip I was actually a little nervous that weather or an accident to the AW1 could spoil capturing this wonderful place.

I also shot a considerable amount of video, but it should likely be edited before showing anything off. (Image stabilization would have been a great help...).
Řivind Třien

Akira

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2018, 01:43:50 »
These images make me feel frozen but are joy to look at nevertheless.  Thank you for sharing!
"The eye is blind if the mind is absent." - Confucius

"Limitation is inspiration." - Akira

Řivind Třien

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2018, 07:03:10 »
Thanks Akira.  Again, with those thick neoprene drysuits, the thick additional insulating layer provided and my own wool base layer and no compression of these layers at the surface with plenty of air in the suit, it was not very cold at all. However the first insulating layer I was offered (and that was replaced) was very wet in the legs, so someone before me had apparently been less as lucky with the seals of a suit. (It is recommended to bring spare dry clothes). When coming ashore again, I really wanted to do the route again right away if it had been feasible.
Řivind Třien

Řivind Třien

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2018, 07:51:10 »
Just to make the trip report more complete, the other two main stops on this "Golden Circle" tour was Gullfoss and Geysir.
These represent two other outer points, the waterfall having silt filled glacier melt water, and Geysir of course very hot water from the ground. These are both very common photo targets for tourists that might be familiar from published images. The schedule was a bit tight there so there was not a whole lot of time for photography other than quick hand held captures.

Gullfoss
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Gullfoss
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Geysir
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Řivind Třien

Hugh_3170

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2018, 15:14:38 »
Yes, I understand.  But these and the earlier snorkeling shots have certainly whetted my appetite, so many thanks indeed for sharing these with us all.  Glad that you enjoyed this short outing - even if only a one day trip. 

Thanks & Cheers.


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The schedule was a bit tight there so there was not a whole lot of time for photography other than quick hand held captures.

Gullfoss
#1
 


Gullfoss
#2



Geysir
#3

Hugh Gunn

Bruno Schroder

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2018, 21:11:27 »
Thanks a lot for sharing. Another place I now want to visit.
Bruno Schröder

Řivind Třien

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2018, 22:08:32 »

Thanks for the comments, Bruno and Hugh. For my own part I would say it was a very addictive experience...
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Erik Lund

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2018, 13:31:43 »
Very nice to see your images of wonderful Iceland! Thanks ;)


I'm shocked to see so many turists! Wow,,, No wonder the locals are complaining
Erik Lund

Thomas Stellwag

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2018, 15:34:57 »
I showed your pictures to my AW 1 and it cried, I wanna do something like this  :D

thanks for sharing this series of a busy day with us
Thomas Stellwag

Řivind Třien

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2018, 21:59:24 »

Thanks Erik and Thomas for the enthusiastic comments. My AW1 cries that it want to go there again.

Yes, Iceland has become mostly tourists, at least in this part of the country. I was prepared that would be the case, and being one of them, I just had to go with it.
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Jakov Minić

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2018, 10:27:59 »
Řivind, thank you so much for this lovely story and the spectacular images that accompany it!
The crystal blue waters simply scream it's cold. I would not dare to snorkel there with 3 neoprene suits on :)
It is even cold for fish, I mean I am surprised not a single school enjoying the waters.
You brought back fond memories of Iceland.
The AW1 is an awesome piece of equipment and you use it exemplary.
I have been rambling for some time how I am awaiting a newer version. Z-mount would do too. Then I would be interested in a Z model...
Free your mind and your ass will follow. - George Clinton
Before I jump like monkey give me banana. - Fela Kuti
Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem. - Woody Allen

Řivind Třien

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Re: Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir Park, Iceland
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2018, 11:09:26 »
Thanks for the kind comment Jakov. I have heard there are some bigger fish in Thingvellir Lake further out, but the Silfra Fissue is itself likely too low on nutritients to be interesting for the fish to enter. Keep in mind that cold water is in many respects good for the fish as it dissolves more oxygen.

Yes, a Z-mount series Nikonos that could go to scuba diving depths would be something, although a quite an expensive piece of equipment to drown...
Řivind Třien