OPAL Industry Australia


Dr Patrice Rey and colleague Adriana Dutkiewicz inspecting samples on a recent visit to Coober Pedy

Dr Patrice Rey and colleague Adriana Dutkiewicz inspecting samples on a recent visit to Coober Pedy

Dr Patrice Rey, Structural geologist from the University of Sydney is at the start of a long journey to understand opal formation. Dr Rey is currently visiting Lightning Ridge with student Baptiste Journaux to look at open cuts, underground mines and opal in situ. 

Patrice has been involved in opal research for many years now. One of his PhD Students Ingrid van der Beek submitted her thesis on opal “Structural and Lithological relationships to opal deposition at Lightning Ridge, NSW” in October 2003 and Patrice presented at the National Opal Symposium in Lightning Ridge in 2005 and in Quilpie in 2007. 

During this time many miners have assisted Patrice with samples but his research team now need to see opal in its context so they can assess the orientation and placement of the material in the host rock. 

Patrice and his colleague Adriana Dutkiewicz have secured a discovery research grant from the Australian Research Council for about a quarter of a million dollars over three years to study the formation of opal. 

The project aims are:-

  • Investigate the role macroscopic and microscopic structural features associated with major opal fields play in the formation of precious opal.
  • Investigate the impact of intraplate (palaeo)-stresses and dynamic topography on the unique geological setting of the opal deposits.
  • Constrain fluid geochemistry and subsurface conditions under which opal forms using fluid inclusions in opal and associated cements, as well as opal and host rock geochemistries and use this information to elucidate the evolution and migration pathway of the opalising fluid.
  • Establish the role microbes play in the formation of opal by extracting paleofluids preserved within fluid inclusions in the opal.
  • Determine the age of opal genesis using direct U-Pb, 230Th-U and (U-Th)/He SHRIMP dating of opal deposits.

Adriana and Patrice will be visiting all the opal fields and have already been to Coober Pedy but the bulk of their research will be focused on Lightning Ridge. 

If anyone has any interesting structural features in their claim and can assist with this project please let the LRMA office know. Patrice and Adriana will be back around September and Adriana will be presenting at the National Opal Symposium in Winton on 8 July 2009

Maxine O’Brien
Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association Ltd
PO Box 177, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
Ph: 02 6829 0427, Fax: 02 6829 0830
Mob: 0427 920 474
Email: lrma@lightningridge.net.au

See also: The Opal Project (Patrice Rey)