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A Bible-believing scientist in Australia has dedicated his life to researching the formation of opals. Len Cram has found that the millions-of-years story is a myth. In fact, he has created high quality opals in his laboratory in a matter of months!
All it takes is an electrolyte (a chemical solution that is electrically charged), a source of silica and water, and some alumina and feldspar.
The opal-forming process is one of ion exchange, a chemical process that involves building the opal structure ion by ion (an ion is an electrically charged atom, or group of atoms [molecule]). … The ion exchange process starts at some point and spreads until all the critical ingredients, in this case the electrolyte, are used up. This initial formation process takes place quickly, in a matter of months, in Len’s laboratory.
After the initial formation in a matter of weeks, the opal has beautiful colour patterns, but it still has a lot of water in it. Slowly over months, further chemical changes take place which consolidate the silica gel. These changes create varying patterns of colour and “squeeze” the water out. It is not the initial forming that takes time; rather, it is this restructuring. Only after the opal has restructured is it stable and useful as a gemstone.
Based on this research, Dr. Andrew Snelling explains how natural opals have formed:
At some point in the host rock [which formed during the Flood], the correct mixture of electrolyte and other ingredients is present. The chemical process starts and expands outward. It transforms the host sandstone or opal dirt into precious opal through the ion exchange process. As it does, it uses up the electrolyte. When it is all used up, the process stops and no more precious opal forms. After this initial formation, the silica gel naturally restructures, becoming more compact, “squeezing” out water as it does.
(Growing opals—Australian style, Creation 12:1, 1989, pp. 10–15, online at www.answersingenesis.org/geology/rocks-and-minerals/growing-opals-australian-style/.)