Opal formation in the fossil
The Different Colors of Opal
Tectonics and Climate
Opal Rock Cycle
How the Earth's layer affects Opal rock cycle
Once the igneous rock is on the surface, the forces of erosion and weathering produce smaller particles which accumulate on the surface, and/or are moved by wind and water. As time proceeds, layers of these sediments build up (on land or under water). The pressure from upper layers causes compaction in the lower layers along with various chemical and physical changes (lithification), which lead to the creation of sedimentary rock.
Evaporation is an alternate factor which also produces sedimentary rocks, as when dripping mineral-laden waters leave behind stalactites or stalagmites. Likewise, surface or subterranean waters carrying dissolved minerals may evaporate or precipitate those minerals within the cracks in other rocks, or between rock layers. Sandstone and limestone are familiar sedimentary rocks formed by lithification. Opal and turquoise illustrate the evaporative mode of formation.
Near Surface Environments (Tectonic plates and the Opal)
The presence of intrusive magma in a local region (contact metamorphism), or of tectonic plate interactions on a larger scale (regional metamorphism) puts the igneous and sedimentary rocks and minerals under heat and/or pressure which may cause changes in their chemistry and crystal structure. The result is the creation of metamorphic rocks. Thus is limestone turned into marble, sandstone into quartzite, and serpentine into nephrite jade.
As with most cycles in Nature there are sub-cycles and cross interactions. So, for example, sedimentary rocks which are subducted through tectonic action may melt and form magma which produces igneous rocks. Or metamorphic rocks, which have been uplifted and exposed at the surface, will erode to form sedimentary deposits.
Near surface waters, like rainwater, move down or up, through soil or rock, as the local cycles of precipitation and evaporation dictate. Such water has carbon dioxide from the air dissolved in it, which creates a weak acid solution (carbonic acid) in which many minerals are soluble. If the environment contains sandy soils or sandstone rock, then silica will be dissolved, and certain silicate gems such as aggregate quartzes, like agates, or amorphous opals may form as the water evaporates.