October 1, 2020

Where can you touch two continents at once?

If you thought about touching two continents at the same time it may sound impossible. These large bodies of land are divided by massive oceans. To touch Asia and Europe at the same time is possible but that is because they are viewed as separate continents for cultural, not geographic reasons. Is it, therefore, possible to touch, perhaps,the American continent and the European continent at the same time?

Asia and Europe are said to meed on the eastern edge of the Ural mountains in Russia, the dividing line continues along the Emba River in Kazakhstan all the way to the shore of the Caspian Sea. To stand on either side of this dividing line would mean you are both in Europe and Asia. Or maybe it would just mean you are in Eurasia. While it sounds pretty cool many people spend their whole lives in the Eurasian territory so it is not as remarkable as it sounds. In reality, this continent was only divided based on the historical, cultural, and political identities of the two sides. There is no clear geographical reason behind this dividing line. For the majority of other continents (we could debate a little about Oceania too), there is a real geographical reason.

With that in mind, we wondered is it actually possible to touch two (real) continents at the same time? After some digging, we found a place somewhere in the world where the continents are divided by only a few feet and you can have one foot on either side at the same time. This dividing line is between Europe and the Americas. 

The Eurasian Plate and the North American Plate are the strictest way to divide both continents. To touch both at the same time you need to venture to Iceland. Iceland is an incredibly beautiful country that has been formed by the volcanic activity of these two plates separating. In doing so a massive opening has formed in the ground called the Silfa Crack. The Silfa Crack divides both Europe and America. 

The Silfa Crack is the part of the longest mountain ridge on Earth. It goes through the center of the Atlantic ocean, four kilometers under the sea. Many people go diving in the Silfa Crack as it has some of the purest water in the world. Overtime many glaciers in the region have melted and provided some of the most filtered water to fill the trench. This makes it a beautiful experience for divers as they can move around with incredible visibility and say it is like floating in space. While that is very appealing, the area is still active geologically and can be dangerous to swim around. Rocks are known to fall suddenly and can cause accidents, we recommend not going alone.

If the crack isn’t appealing to you, there is an easier way to touch both continents. You can visit Midlina in Iceland. Midlina is the crack that crosses entire island and is the surface representation of the divide between tectonic plates. In some areas it is so wide you would need a bridge to cross but in other areas, it is small enough to have a foot on each side. You need to hurry though, these plates are dividing at a rate of 2.5 cm per year. This means that in a few hundred years you may not be able to stand across them any longer.

Iceland is an incredibly beautiful country and to stand on both the North American and European continent while also sort of being in the middle of nowhere is a pretty exciting proposition and another great reason to visit an outstanding country.