Li Du helped Alicia get up and asked in a puzzled tone, "Gemstone pit? What's that?"
Brendan was just about to open his mouth, before Alicia gave him a punch and angrily said, "Are you trying to get us killed? Why did you let go of the handle?"
Although he had taken a beating, Brendan was not angry at all. He and his cousin Stephen were very much alike in this aspect. They had the characteristic of a yes-man.
Facing his angry wife, he forced a smile and said, "I got too excited. We should hurry to the gemstone pit or else there will be nothing left if we are late."
"Gemstone pit?" Sophie asked. "What's that? Are there a lot of gemstones?"
Li Du shook his head. "Yes and no. An "opal gemstone pit" refers to an area with a lot of boulder opals."
All natural mineral gemstones were derived from silicon dioxide. The reason for the formation of opals could be found approximately one billion years ago, in some regions where there were extremely high temperatures, due to a volcanic eruption or the impact of a meteorite. The high temperatures then melted the rocks into pure silicon dioxide.
The silicon dioxide, which was melted into liquid form, then flowed like magma into the crevices in the ground and empty mineral areas, where they were deposited.
Generally speaking, such depositions were only effective at around 400 feet deep from the earth's surface. Approximately every five million years, deposited sediments would add a centimeter of thickness, causing the silicon dioxide to slowly coagulate together.
Within the one to two million year period after that phase, the deposited sediments had slowly solidified as the weather changed. Opals and the deposited sediments had not bonded together. After yet another long period of time, only a part of the silicon dioxide was solidified.
While the silicon dioxide solidified, some of it might not be able to separate from the surrounding rocks and possibly fuse with the rocks or dust.
Under such conditions, boulder opals were formed. Boulder opals referred to opals that were fused together with rocks to form a single entity. When dug up, they referred to the rocks that encased an opal and also rocks with opals embedded in them.
Of course, there were also many other reasons for opals to have such beautiful shapes and patterns. The reasons involved a very complex physical process, which Li Du had only managed to comprehend after much difficulty.
He gained the knowledge of both gemstone pits and boulder opals while he learned the information regarding their formation.
The conditions for the formation of boulder opal were different to those of pure opal. Nearly all of the liquid silicon dioxide came into contact with surrounding rocks during the flowing and solidifying process.
However, only a part of it formed boulder opals, while most of it still formed pure opals. A complex physical process was also involved in this.
It was during the physical process that the difference between boulder opal and pure opal emerged. Pure opals were usually found alone, whereas boulder opals were found in large quantities.
Compared to pure opal, the prices of boulder opal were slightly lower as it was usually fused together with some ugly-looking rocks.
If a gemstone was ugly, it was not worth a single cent.
However, with the advancements in modern science and technology, the value of boulder opal had increased.
Some machines were capable of grinding away the external layer of rock from a boulder opal, hence revealing the opal inside. There were also machines that could sculpt the layer of rock into valuable patterns.
With the two methods, the value of a boulder opal could increase by ten fold. This was especially so for the latter method, as opals themselves were very valuable. Hence, when people bought them, they would not be willing to grind them and would keep them in their original states.
But, it was different when there was a layer of rock as the rock was not valuable and so could be sculpted at will.
Li Du had heard in the news that this kind of boulder opal was rather popular in the market.
He had seen a small horse whose body was opal, and its head, tail, and limbs were sculpted from the rock layer. He had also seen a hawk whose pair of wings were opal, while its body was carved from the rock layer.
Hearing the news from Brendan got Li Du rather excited.
Since the gemstone pit had been discovered by someone else, it belonged to them and Li Du had no way to profit from it.
However, having the opportunity to widen his horizons was also good. Also, gemstone pits were rarer than pure opals, where finding at least one every year was unlikely.
Besides, it wasn't like there was absolutely nothing to gain from it.
Seeing Li Du express an interest in viewing the pit, Brendan waved and said, "Let's go and have a look. Maybe we'll be lucky enough to dig one up?"
A gemstone pit was not limited to a small area, and instead spanned a considerable area containing boulder opals. The area could be one hectare and one square mile, or even ten square miles.
Despite that, from nature's perspective, a few hectares and a few square miles was very small.
Therefore, if someone found a gemstone pit, everyone would go over to try their luck as there was a very high chance to find boulder opals in the surrounding areas. This was where profits could be gained.
Li Du followed Brendan's motorcycle in his truck and rushed over to the pit.
In the end, the more he drove, the more puzzled he felt. Sophie, who leaned against the window, curiously asked, "Why is this stretch of road so familiar? Isn't this the place where we stayed for two days?"
Li Du also felt the same way. However, compared to the two days when they were here, the area of crushed rocks was much more lively. Dozens of people were gathered here, with some more rushing over.
Brendan got off his motorcycle and beckoned to Li Du before anxiously wandering around the area.
At the barren land not far from here, several people were excitedly shouting.
"Oh, f*ck f*ck, I found a piece! Awesome, I found another piece!"
"Darn it, Steve is so lucky. He actually managed to find a gemstone pit. He's making so much money!"
"This bastard is becoming a millionaire, can't you see? They've already found hundreds of boulder opals. He's made a fortune!"
"Millionaire? Mate, he could be a multimillionaire! It's hundreds of boulder opals!"
Li Du rubbed his chin and looked with interest at the people who were enthusiastically discussing. He felt that something was amiss as judging from their words, the gemstone pit was in this area.
But, there was no boulder opal in this area. Maybe there might still be some gemstones, there was definitely no boulder opal. The little bug began sweeping through the entire area as though it were plowing a piece of land.
Where are all the boulder opals coming from? Where is the gemstone pit at?
Gemstone "pit" was just a name and did not literally mean a small pit. Even if the little bug had an oversight when searching the area, it was still not possible that it did not find a single boulder opal.
Despite that, boulder opals were undoubtedly appearing. In the crowd was a muscular man holding a gun and guarding a box in front of him, which contained boulder opals.
Under the sun's rays, the rocks and opals appeared as one. They radiated a strange glow, and together with the ebullience of the gem hunters, the atmosphere of the place became even more strange.
While Li Du was trying to comprehend the situation, he was dragged into it.
Noticing his silhouette, someone promptly pointed at him and shouted, "That's the Chinaman who rented this area before us."