Scale the world’s only accessible hydrothermal chimney as fish dart around you and the heat of magma-filtered water warms your bones.
The Ice Age may have ended thousands of years ago, but that doesn’t mean all of its relics have disappeared. Just below the frozen wastelands of the Arctic Circle lies a legacy to this bygone era, a protected underwater monument in the middle of Northern Iceland’s longest fjord. Within a site named Strytan a secret remained hidden for 11,000 years. But less than two decades ago it came to light.
Setting off from the dive centre run by the site’s founder Erlendur Bogasson, you speed off by boat until you reach a solitary luminous buoy. Torch at the ready, you take a backwards roll plunge and follow a thick steel shot line guiding your way. After 25 metres you begin to glimpse an enormous, dark silhouette ahead. This menacing structure created through superheated rock and seawater is the reason you are here, and is the only one of its kind known to the world.
Giant hydrothermal chimney’s like this are usually buried thousands of meters deep. But at Strytan the hydrothermal hot vent is mere metres from the surface, making it the only one accessible to scuba divers worldwide. One of the rarest underwater geological discoveries known to man, it should by all means not exist.
Pumping out 100 litres of 72 degree fresh water every second, it is best viewed from 40 metres depth where you can look up and take in the masterpiece of nature before you. Large schools of cod and pollock circle the cone as you ascend it, with vent fluid shimmering as it fuses with the cold seawater. Drawing yourself near the shaft, you can feel the warmth of 1,100 year-old hot water soothing your skin. Many divers take photos, yet all soon realise that the scale of this monolith is so grand that it’s difficult to capture through a lens.
As you speed away from the site, you can sometimes glimpse Minke whales breaching near the boat. It’s easy to look down at this giant creatures and find them small compared to what you’ve just seen, for few sights compare to this swirling cone of rock thrust through the Earth’s core and into the reach of divers, a buried mountain waiting to be explored.
Available for diving all-year round, if you’re an advanced diver with good buoyancy skills and want to witness one of the most astounding relics of the Ice Age, then Magmadive are offering three-day Strytan diving trips to one of the best sites in Iceland at 180,000 ISK per person.