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Re: opal (a little relevant, a little eccentric)

If anyone who knows more geology than me (and most of you do) has any 
comments or corrections relating to what I'm about to say, please reply 
(either to me or the list, depending on how interesting you think you are :-)

Paul Willis confided:

>I've also thought about having my remains left somewhere where they will
>end up fossilised (although i hadn't thought of the extravagance of
>opalisation). I figures the sure-fire way to do it would be to have my
>carcass skeletonised by domestids then the skeleton encased in concrete...

That should work in Australia in the short term, provided your vault gets 
buried rather than eroded.  (If your grave ends up very arid, the sand 
might do either.)  But it would be no good here, where ice ages are an 
everyday annoyance.  (I didn't say they happened every day, just they 
annoy every day.)  Anything buried on land, unless sunk deep into the 
bedrock, will be dug up and probably ground up by glaciers in a few tens 
of thousands of years.

Rivers are also inadvisable: where they're depositing today they may be 
eroding in a few millennia.  In any case they are not glacier-proof.  I 
believe high-latitude lakes, even the Great ones, are also subject to 
too much glacial disturbance.  

So that leaves the sea.  Fortunately, the seabed nearly everywhere is a 
site of deposition, and will continue to be unless exposed by regression.  
You just have to make sure you don't get subducted and destroyed.  For 
oceans, this requires a prediction of future tectonics.

Luckily I live near some seas on a continental plate.  If I am sunk in 
the North Sea I can be reasonably sure of getting fossilised, and if that 
works I am virtually guaranteed to get exposed sometime in the distant 

>with a suitable plaque on the outside allerting palaeontologists of the
>future to the find. I would also include a random set of bits and pieces 
>... just to confuse the hyper intelligent cockroach that digs me up.

I thought about caskets and belongings, but decided the only responsible 
course was to include no durable manufactured items at all, apart from 
dental work.  I would like a biodegradable coffin with holes in - these 
will allow small animals in to skeletonise me quickly for early burial, but 
not big ones which would disarticulate or remove bones.

Palaeontologists in the distant future will probably realise that something 
odd happened around now.  Although nearly everything will be destroyed over 
time, there are sure to be numerous aretfacts preserved as fossils, and they 
will realise that something developed civilisations.

I think it goes against the whole spirit of science to give the game away 
by revealing which species it was.  Let them work it out for themselves.  
If fossils are shown to be clues left by the ancient ones to enlighten 
scholars, or worse still to mislead the faithless, then they're all going 
to become creationists.

Even worse, they will probably become very angry at the creatures which 
exterminated such a large percentage of the world's land vertebrates (they 
will probably assume that other land animals fared as badly), stole most of 
its fossil fuels and perhaps caused climatic disasters.  If our descendants 
or other primates are still alive, it will go very badly for them if we can 
be identified as the culprits.  

Perhaps we should try to pin it on someone else.  Dolphins, maybe.

And if opalisation isn't understood, can anyone recommend any fancy 
processes which can be arranged?

                                        Live long & prosper,