About the Opal Pineapple
Opal Pineapples (Ikaite-Calcite-Opal) are one of the rarest mineral specimens on earth, with only a small number being unearthed whole and intact.
Red Earth Opal is the leading specialists in Opal Pineapples having unearthed all the worlds finest examples of these specimens
Opal Pineapples formed around 120 millions years ago under frozen conditions. Beginning as a hydrous mineral called Ikaite, as temperatures rise to around 4 degrees Celsius, the water is released leaving a Calcified webbing. Elsewhere it is re-calcified to form what’s know as a Glendonite, however in White Cliffs it is then later again replaced during the opal forming event (40mya), to become known today as the Opal Pineapple.
This process means that Opal Pineapples are in fact the fossil of a mineral and known as a double pseudomorph.
Upon discovering an area (patch) containing these rare specimens, great care is needed to extract without further damage, as most found will naturally fall apart due to fractures caused by excessive ground movement over the Millenia.
Large mining machinery is then replaced with a fine handheld sharpened screwdriver, to carefully probe through the host siltstone to ‘feel’ the piece hidden beneath to limit damage.
Today we try and carefully remove these pieces with a small amount of host matrix still attached.
Back in our preparation lab, we will slowly remove the host material using a micro sand blaster with various abrasives and picking tools to delicately clean the Opal Pineapple without harm.
In some cases, gentle acids are employed and other specialised techniques.