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A Review of the Classification of Opal with Reference to Recent New Localities

1
South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia
2
College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Sturt Rd, Bedford Park, South Australia 5042, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2019, 9(5), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9050299
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 13 May 2019 / Accepted: 13 May 2019 / Published: 15 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Gems)
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Abstract

Our examination of over 230 worldwide opal samples shows that X-ray diffraction (XRD) remains the best primary method for delineation and classification of opal-A, opal-CT and opal-C, though we found that mid-range infra-red spectroscopy provides an acceptable alternative. Raman, infra-red and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy may also provide additional information to assist in classification and provenance. The corpus of results indicated that the opal-CT group covers a range of structural states and will benefit from further multi-technique analysis. At the one end are the opal-CTs that provide a simple XRD pattern (“simple” opal-CT) that includes Ethiopian play-of-colour samples, which are not opal-A. At the other end of the range are those opal-CTs that give a complex XRD pattern (“complex” opal-CT). The majority of opal-CT samples fall at this end of the range, though some show play-of-colour. Raman spectra provide some correlation. Specimens from new opal finds were examined. Those from Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Peru, Tanzania and Turkey all proved to be opal-CT. Of the three specimens examined from Indonesian localities, one proved to be opal-A, while a second sample and the play-of-colour opal from West Java was a “simple” Opal-CT. Evidence for two transitional types having characteristics of opal-A and opal-CT, and “simple” opal-CT and opal-C are presented.
Keywords: opal; hyalite; silica; X-ray diffraction; Raman; Infrared; 29Si nuclear magnetic resonance; SEM; provenance opal; hyalite; silica; X-ray diffraction; Raman; Infrared; 29Si nuclear magnetic resonance; SEM; provenance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Curtis, N.J.; Gascooke, J.R.; Johnson, M.R.; Pring, A. A Review of the Classification of Opal with Reference to Recent New Localities. Minerals 2019, 9, 299.

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