Australian Mookaite specimen
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Mookaite is largely composed of silica from the skeletons of unimaginable numbers of minute marine organisms known as radiolarians. Each radiolarian is only 0.1–0.25 mm long and they are a major part of the ocean's zooplankton. Their skeletons slowly accumulate on the floor of the ocean at a rate of a few millimeters every thousand years. Gradually the muddy ooze is compacted to form a hard flinty rock which, in the best of cases, takes an incredible polish. And in even fewer cases, the colours and patterns emerge in gem grades of this stone as mineral-rich groundwater soaked through the rock.