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The Stuart Creek Field

This small opal-bearing area is at the northern tip of Lake Torrens. The discovery of precious opal at this locality appears to have been around 1947. However the area was difficult of access and the quality and quantity of opal was poor, so that the area has only been prospected and mined intermittently.

The country varies from gibber plains to sandhills and playas, and Lake Torrens itself is usually a large, dry lake bed. It is quite flat, but can be deceptive for the use of vehicles. The dry crust is often quite thin, with a thick layer of salty black mud underneath, making driving hazardous even for four wheel drive vehicles.

No settlement was ever established at the site, even though it seems possible that opal may occur in payable quantities in the area. As always, searching in a new area for opal is a chancy prospect.

The general geological relationships are similar to those at other opal fields. The opal usually occurs at the boundary between overlying porous sandy clays and underlying impervious clayey beds.

Other areas in South Australia

Numerous areas, recorded by Barnes et al (R0239), have yielded minor quantities of the gemstone. These include England Hill, some 100 km northwest of Coober Pedy; Ouldburra Hill and Sarda Bluff, respectively 185 km and 200 km NNW of Coober Pedy; Vesuvius, 15 km northeast of Marla and Lambina, about 230 km north of Coober Pedy.

These occurrences are similar in nature to those of the Coober Pedy area, and, although prospected from time to time over the last 20 or 30 years, have not yielded any significant amount of gem quality opal.

Similarly, there are minor occurrences at Granite Downs and Wallatinna, a few km north and south respectively of Mintabie. Unlike the other minor occurrences mentioned, these differ in that the provenance of the opal is similar to that at Mintabie. However, once again, there has been no significant production of gem quality material from these localities.

More details of South Australian opal and opal-bearing areas may be obtained from the excellent publications of the South Australian Department of Mines and Energy footnote.