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A little bit of history about my self at a very young age ,in 1970 i left the eastern coastal strip where a huge part of the population live in Australia and went west i was quite fascinated by the old black opal gem feels around the town of lightning Ridge in the State of New South Wales .Enjoyed looking for fossils as much as Opal's. 2006 July the industry awarded the only Australian type order over the famous 3 mile open cut of his, the 3 mile is the richest black opal feel and also the highest quality Black Opal ever produced in the history of the industry. You can feel very comfortable purchasing from my website as the quality of the 3 mile opal is very good A+.
Geology - Opal is currently being mined from depths between 1 metre and about 30 metres below the surface. The opal is found in sedimentary rocks that were deposited in a freshwater environment during the Cretaceous period, about 110 million years ago..
Survey - The object of surveying a claim is to provide the Mining Registrar's office with a diagram which shows where you which to register a claim in relation to a fixed point or survey mark..
Mark out of a Claim - A steel picket or wooden post(at least 75mm thick)must be placed and protrude at least one metre out of the ground. Trenches(1metre long and 150mm deep)must be dug from each corner post along the direction of the claim boundaries..
Propping - Propping is a process whereby timber is used to stabilise underground mine workings. By reducing the risk of cave ins, propping improves safety for opal miners while also maximising the amount of opal bearing claystone that can be excavated..
Drilling Rigs - Prior to the introduction of drilling rigs to the Lightning Ridge region, nearly all mine shaft excavation and prospecting was undertaken by manual methods.
Automatic Hoist - The principal of operation is a winch (differential or slip type drum)which when activate from down in the mine would pull a bucket up using the ladders as a guide going up and around a curved frame which invert the bucket and empties the dirt on to a waiting truck .
Blowers - There are in excess of 200 blowers in Lightning Ridge.Althrough there may have been some blowers prior to the first commercially built in Lightning Ridge which was built by Knud Nexo in December 1973.
Wet Puddlers and Agitators - The wet puddler is used to separate the Opal clay from the actual Opal and harder particles.The Puddler is basically a basket made out of 1/4 inch mesh with a rotating plate at the bottom of the basket driven by an external power source through a modified diff from a truck.
Underground Digging Machines - Under ground Diggers came to LIGHTNING RIDGE in the late 1970's and were mainly self driven bobcat type but in 1980 the first purpose built digger was made by Knud Nexo as an add on to the blowers.
Opal Glossary - Opal Mining Glossary , The information is extracts from Len Cram's book" A Journey with Colour".
Department of Mineral Resources of NSW - Lot 60 Morilla Street(PO Box 314)Lightning Ridge 2834 Telephone: (02) 6829 0678/0824 Fax: ( 02) 6829 0825
Opal ,Black Opal ,crystal Opal can have rich play of color in some Opals gives them unsurpassed splendor and mystique. Opal is one of the most fascinating and fabled of gemstones . Mineraloid one of the scientifically accepted standards defining a mineral is that a mineral must have a crystal structure ,which opal lacks. Despite this, virtually all scientific references, including the acclaimed Dana's System of Mineralogy, categorize Opal together with the true minerals. Uncut Opals are often stored in water; this reduces the chance of crazing. Once a specimen is taken out of the water its susceptibility increases. Opal stored in water should not be taken out of the water for more than several minutes at a time. Cutting or polishing Opals, especially Opals from localities notorious for crazing, is a risky process; it is a matter of chance if the Opals will craze or not. To further protect Opals from crazing, they should not be washed with chemicals or detergents and should not be subject to sudden changes in temperature or lighting. In the 1960's, the reason of the color play was discovered with the aid of the electron microscope, where it was determined that Opal is composed of tiny silica spheres that can be arranged in an orderly pattern. This diffracts the light entering the stone into the spectral colors. A light wave diffracted through the Opal causes a color sheen or scintillation in the stone. The density and pattern of the aligned silica spheres are responsible for the different colors refracted in the Opal. Common Opal lacks this effect, since its spheres are disordered or too compact to permit the light from refracting. Conditions affects certain Opals, causing them to form internal and external cracks. Crazing is a particularly interesting phenomenon, since it lacks consistency and is unpredictable. Although it can occur at random, it usually strikes when an Opal removed from damp conditions is allowed to dry too quickly, or when an opal is exposed to sudden intense light (or a combination of these factors). Crazing may also take place when an opal is subject to vibration, as during the cutting and polishing of a specimen. The severity of the crazind the time it takes to "craze" varies among specimens. The origin of the specimen is often a determining factor to its resistance to crazing. A very gradual drying process over months or even years can in some cases effectively stabilize the stone and allow it to be cut and polished with a substantially reduced risk of crazing.>
The secret of the Opal gemstone the exotic gem virtually released its mysterious history when the electron microscope was discovered in virtually recent times . Read about the history of this technology : An electron microscope is a type of microscope that uses a particle beam of electrons to illuminate the specimen and produce a magnified image. Electron microscopes (EM) have a greater resolving power than a light-powered optical microscope because electrons have wavelengths about 100,000 times shorter than visible light , and can achieve better than 50 pm resolution and magnify of up to about 10,000,000x, whereas ordinary, non-confocal light microscopes are limited by diffraction to about 200 nm resolution and useful magnifications below 2000x.Opal gemstones and solid Opal jewelry along with fake Opal jewelry can be clearly detect any fake gemstones. The electron microscope uses electrostatic lens and electromagnetic "lenses" to control the electron beam and focus it to form an image. These lenses are analogous to, but different from the glass lenses of an optical microscope that form a magnified image by focusing light on or through the specimen. In transmission, the electron beam is first diffracted by the specimen, and then, the electron microscope “lenses" re-focus the beam into a Fourier-transformed image of the diffraction pattern for the selected area of investigation. The real image thus formed is magnified by a factor ranging from a few hundred to many hundred thousand times, and can be viewed on a detecting screen or recorded using photographic film or plates or with a digital camera. Electron microscopes are used to observe a wide range of biological and inorganic specimens including microorganisms , cells /(biology), large molecules ,biopsy samples, metals , and crystals . Industrially, the electron microscope is primarily used for quality control and failure analysis in semiconductor device fabrication . Opal gemstone rough can be detected easily using this technology. The advantages of electron microscopy over X-ray crystallography are that the specimen need not be a single crystal or even a polycrystalline powder, and also that the Fourier transform reconstruction of the object's magnified structure occurs physically and thus avoids the need for solving the phase problem faced by the X-ray crystallographers after obtaining their X-ray diffraction patterns of a single crystal or polycrystalline powder. The major disadvantage of the transmission electron microscope is the need for extremely thin sections of the specimens, typically about 100 nanometers. Biological specimens typically require to be chemically fixed, dehydrated and embedded in a polymer resin to stabilize them sufficiently to allow ultrathin sectioning. Sections of biological specimens, organic polymers and similar materials may require special `staining' with heavy atom labels in order to achieve the required image contrast. The black Opal gemstone can be studied easily using this technology. In 1931, the German physicist Ernst Ruska and German electrical engineer Max Knoll constructed the prototype electron microscope, capable of four-hundred-power magnification; the apparatus was a practical application of the principles of electron microscopy. Two years later, in 1933, Ruska built an electron microscope that exceeded the resolution attainable with an optical (lens) microscope. Moreover, Reinhold Rudenberg , the scientific director of Siemens-Schuckertwerke obtained the patent for the electron microscope in May 1931. Family illness compelled the electrical engineer to devise an electrostatic microscope, because he wanted to make visible the poliomyelitis virus. Synthetic Opal gemstone can be detected easy using this technology. In 1932, Ernst Lubcke of Siemens & Halske built and obtained images from a prototype electron microscope, applying concepts described in the Rudenberg patent applications. Five years later (1937), the firm financed the work of Ernst Ruska and Bodo von Borries , and employed Helmut Ruska (Ernst’s brother) to develop applications for the microscope, especially with biologic specimens. Also in 1937, Manfred von Ardenne pioneered the scanning electron microscope 5] The first practical electron microscope was constructed in 1938, at the University of Toronto , by Eli Franklin Burton and students Cecil Hall, James Hillier , and Albert Prebus; and Siemens produced the first commercial transmission electron microscope (TEM) in 1939. Although contemporary electron microscopes are capable of two million-power magnification, as scientific instruments, they remain based upon Ruska’s prototype . Solid Opal can be detected easy using the technology. The original form of electron microscope, the transmission electron microscope (TEM) uses a high voltage electron beam to create an image. The electrons are emitted by an electron gun , commonly fitted with a tungsten filament cathode as the electron source. The electron beam is accelerated by an anode typically at +100 keV (40 to 400 keV) with respect to the cathode, focused by electrostatic and electromagnetic lenses, and transmitted through the specimen that is in part transparent to electrons and in part scatters them out of the beam. When it emerges from the specimen, the electron beam carries information about the structure of the specimen that is magnified by the objective lens system of the microscope. The spatial variation in this information (the "image") is viewed by projecting the magnified electron image onto a fluorescent viewing screen coated with a phosphor or scintillator material such as zinc sulfide. The image can be photographically recorded by exposing a photographic film or plate directly to the electron beam, or a high-resolution phosphor may be coupled by means of a lens optical system or a fibre optic light-guide to the sensor of a CCD (charge-coupled device camera. The image detected by the CCD may be displayed on a monitor or computer. Synthetic fake gemstones can be detected easily with this technology along with crystal Opal. Resolution of the TEM is limited primarily by spherical aberration , but a new generation of aberration correctors have been able to partially overcome spherical aberration to increase resolution. Hardware correction of spherical aberration for the high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) has allowed the production of images with resolution below 0.5 angstrom (50 picometres  at magnifications above 50 million times. The ability to determine the positions of atoms within materials has made the HRTEM an important tool for nano-tech. Gray Opal gemstone can be detected easily with this technology.
Unlike the TEM, where electrons of the high voltage beam carry the image of the specimen, the electron beam of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) does not at any time carry a complete image of the specimen. The SEM produces images by probing the specimen with a focused electron beam that is scanned across a rectangular area of the specimen (raster scanning ) .At each point on the specimen the incident electron beam loses some energy, and that lost energy is converted into other forms, such as heat, emission of low-energy secondary electrons , light emission (cathodoluminescence ) or X-ray emission. The display of the SEM maps the varying intensity of any of these signals into the image in a position corresponding to the position of the beam on the specimen when the signal was generated. In the SEM image of an ant shown at right, the image was constructed from signals produced by a secondary electron detector, the normal or conventional imaging mode in most SEMs. Generally, the image resolution of an SEM is about an order of magnitude poorer than that of a TEM. However, because the SEM image relies on surface processes rather than transmission, it is able to image bulk samples up to many centimetres in size and (depending on instrument design and settings) has a great depth of field, and so can produce images that are good representations of the three-dimensional shape of the sample. Another advantage of SEM is its variety called environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) can produce images of sufficient quality and resolution with the samples being wet or contained in low vacuum or gas. This greatly facilitates imaging biological samples which are unstable in the high vacuum of conventional electron microscopes. White Opal crystal Opal, Black Opal along with all solid Opal can be clearly seen with this technology. In the reflection electron microscope (REM) as in the TEM, an electron beam is incident on a surface, but instead of using the transmission (TEM) or secondary electrons (SEM), the reflected beam of elastically scattered electrons is detected. This technique is typically coupled with reflection high energy electron diffraction (RHEED) and reflection high-energy loss spectroscopy (RHELS). Another variation is spin-polarized low-energy electron microscopy (SPLEEM), which is used for looking at the microstructure of magnetic domains . Fake gemstones are always detected by this technology and Opals can be clearly detected . The STEM rasters a focused incident probe across a specimen that (as with the TEM) has been thinned to facilitate detection of electrons scattered through the specimen. The high resolution of the TEM is thus possible in STEM. The focusing action (and aberrations) occur before the electrons hit the specimen in the STEM, but afterward in the TEM. The STEMs use of SEM-like beam rastering simplifies annular dark-field imaging , and other analytical techniques, but also means that image data is acquired in serial rather than in parallel fashion. Solid Opal ,gemstones Black Opals, White Opal, grey Opal, crystal Opal, rub Opal, Opal in the rough, Queensland bolder Opal and all other gemstones are clearly visible to the electron microscope. The low-voltage electron microscope (LVEM) is a combination of SEM, TEM and STEM in one instrument, which operates at relatively low electron accelerating voltage of 5 kV. Low voltage reduces the specimen damage by the incident electrons and increases image contrast that is especially important for biological specimens. This increase in contrast significantly reduces, or even eliminates the need to stain. Sectioned samples generally need to be thinner than they would be for conventional TEM (20-65 nm). Resolutions of a few nm are possible in TEM, SEM and STEM modes. Synthetic Opal is detected so easy with the use of electron microscope. Electron microscopes are expensive to build and maintain, but the capital and running costs of confocal light microscope systems now overlaps with those of basic electron microscopes. They are dynamic rather than static in their operation, requiring extremely stable high-voltage supplies, extremely stable currents to each electromagnetic coil/lens, continuously pumped high- or ultra-high-vacuum systems, and a cooling water supply circulation through the lenses and pumps. As they are very sensitive to vibration and external magnetic fields, microscopes designed to achieve high resolutions must be housed in stable buildings (sometimes underground) with special services such as magnetic field cancelling systems. Some desktop low-voltage electron microscopes have TEM capabilities at relatively low voltages (around 5 kV) without stringent voltage supply, lens coil current, cooling water or vibration isolation requirements and as such are much less expensive to buy and far easier to install and maintain, but do not have the same ultra-high (atomic scale) resolution capabilities as the larger instruments. Some Opal gemstone merchant use electron microscope. The samples largely have to be viewed in vacuum , as the molecules that make up air would scatter the electrons. One exception is the environmental scanning electron microscope, which allows hydrated samples to be viewed in a low-pressure (up to 20 Torr /2.7 kPa), wet environment. Scanning electron microscopes usually image conductive or semi-conductive materials best. Non-conductive materials can be imaged by an environmental scanning electron microscope. A common preparation technique is to coat the sample with a several-nanometer layer of conductive material, such as gold ,from a sputtering machine; however, this process has the potential to disturb delicate samples. Opal gemstones and solid Opal jewelry along with fake Opal jewelry can be clearly detect any fake gemstones. Small, stable specimens such as carbon nanotubes 'diatom frustules and small mineral crystals (asbestos fibres, for example) require no special treatment before being examined in the electron microscope. Samples of hydrated materials, including almost all biological specimens have to be prepared in various ways to stabilize them, reduce their thickness (ultrathin sectioning) and increase their electron optical contrast (staining). These processes may result in artifacts ,but these can usually be identified by comparing the results obtained by using radically different specimen preparation methods. It is generally believed by scientists working in the field that as results from various preparation techniques have been compared and that there is no reason that they should all produce similar artifacts, it is reasonable to believe that electron microscopy features correspond with those of living cells. In addition, higher-resolution work has been directly compared to results from X-ray crystallography ,providing independent confirmation of the validity of this technique.[citation needed Since the 1980s, analysis of cryofixed ,vitrified specimens has also become increasingly used by scientists, further confirming the validity of this technique.Opal gemstones and solid Opal jewelry along with fake Opal jewelry can be clearly detect any fake gemstones.