British girl to become first child to dive between the two tectonic plates that separate North America and Europe

Silfra is the only place on the planet where it is possible to dive directly in the crack between two continental plates

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The Independent Online

A 13-year-old British girl is to make history by becoming the first child to dive between the two tectonic plates that separate the continents of North America and Europe.

Charlotte Burns, from  Biggin Hill in Kent, had to get special permission from the Icelandic government to attempt the Silfra fissure, considered one of the world’s most beautiful diving locations because of the outstanding clarity of the fresh water.

The lower age limit for the dive in the Thingvellir National Park is 18, and Charlotte – who at 12 became the Professional Association of Diving Instructors youngest junior master scuba diver in the world – lobbied for eight months before Iceland agreed to her request. Silfra is the only place on the planet where it is possible to dive directly in the crack between two continental plates. Charlotte plans to do the dive towards the end of September and is particularly looking forward to stopping on the way down the 200ft-deep fissure, putting out her arms and bridging the gap.

“I’m really excited. I started learning about tectonic plates in year seven [aged 11] and since then I’ve been really fascinated by them,” Charlotte told The Independent.

 

“It’s very rare to have two plates that aren’t colliding – being able to dive through that in water and touch two continents at the same time is amazing. And the water is so blue because it’s coming off a fresh glacier.”

She is from a diving family. Her older brother, Will, 26, was the previous youngest junior master scuba diver, at 14. Charlotte began diving as soon as she was legally allowed to, at ten, and has chalked up dozens of dives all over the world, including in Scotland, Cyprus and California.

She will dive into the Silfra crack with the British explorer Monty Halls, best known for his BBC Great Escape series, in which he lived and worked in remote parts of the UK and Ireland with his dog. Coventry University is filming a documentary about the dive, incorporating facts about tectonic plates, and aims to make it compliant with the national curriculum so it can be used as a teaching aid.

Speaking of her love of scuba diving, Charlotte said: “It’s an amazing feeling. There are no words to describe it. It’s like being an astronaut and you can walk anywhere. And you can swim anywhere, too.

“My dad was a Commando and he says that life is about collecting as many experiences as you can. He says life is like an apple orchard and you have a basket and each apple is an experience. And as you collect experiences your basket builds up – and you want to leave with a full basket to remember.

“And obviously, this will be an amazing experience.”

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