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FIGMM 2016-I.

ARCILLAS
Las arcillas (diferenciando del trmino minerales de arcilla) una roca sedimentaria clstica o suelo
compuesto de uno o ms minerales de arcilla, con trazas de xidos y materia orgnica. Las arcillas son
plsticas debido al contenido de agua y se vuelven compactas, frgiles y no-plsticas al secarse.
Depsitos de arcillas son generalmente compuestos de filosilicatos conteniendo cantidades variables de
agua atrapada en su estructura. Dependiendo del contenido qumico del suelo donde son encontradas,
las arcillas pueden tener diferentes colores variando del blanco, marrn, naranja o rojo.

Figura 1. Depsito de arcillas cuaternarias (izquierda), diferentes colores de las arcillas (derecha).

Minerales de la arcilla

Los minerales de la arcilla generalmente se forman como productos de la desintegracin de los


feldespatos u otros silicatos. Son filosilicatos con estructura cristalina en forma de capas, similares a las
micas y composicionalmente almino-silicatos. Las capas de los cristales estn constituidas de slice
con iones de magnesio y aluminio, con tomos de oxgeno uniendo las capas. Dos patrones laminares
pueden distinguir: arcillas de con dos capas (el grupo de la kandita) y arcillas con tres capas (grupos de
la esmectita, illita y clorita).

La caolinita es el mimebro ms comn del grupo de la kandita y generalmente se forma en perfiles de


suelos en ambientes tropicales y hmedos, donde las aguas cidas lixivian litologas como el granito.
Otros minerales del grupo de la kandita son la dickita, halloysita. Dentro del grupo de la esmectita, estn
las arcillas expandibles como la montmorillonita, que puede absorber agua en su estructura. La
montmorillonita es producto de condiciones ms moderadas de temperatura e suelos con pH alcalino a
neutro. Tambin se forma en condiciones alcalinas en climas ridos. Otro mineral trilaminar es la illita,
relacionado al grupo de las micas, y es el mineral ms comn en los sedimentos, formando en suelos
de reas templadas donde la lixiviacin es limitada. La clorita es un mineral trilaminar que se forma por

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lixiviacin moderada en condiciones cidas dbiles en suelos y climas ridos. La montmorillonita, illita y
clorita se forman generalmente como alteracin de rocas volcnicas, especialmente aquellas que tienen
vidrio volcnico.

Figura 2. Estructura laminar de las principales arcillas.

Los minerales de la arcilla se forman tpicamente en periodos largos de tiempo como resultado de la
meteorizacin qumica de las rocas, usualmente las silceas, por concentraciones bajas de cido
carbnico u otros solventes diluidos. Estos solventes, usualmente los cidos, migran a travs de las
rocas y las lixivian en las capas superiores. Adicionalmente al proceso de meteorizacin, algunas arcillas
se forman por actividad hidrotermal. Existen dos tipos de depsitos: primarios y secundarios. Las arcillas
primarias se forman como depsitos residuales y se mantienen en el sitio de formacin. Las arcillas
secundarias son aquellas que han sido transportadas de su ubicacin original por la erosin y han sido
re-depositadas en un nuevo ambiente sedimentario. Depsitos de arcillas son tpicamente asociados a
ambientes deposicionales de baja energa, como lagos y cuencas marinas.

Aplicaciones de las arcillas

Las arcillas son clasificadas en seis categoras dado su aplicacin industrial: ball clays, bentonitas, arcilla
comn, fire clay, fullers earth y caoln.

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Ball clays: son arcillas de gran calidad usadas principalmente como cermica y son aadidas a otras
arcillas para elevar la plasticidad. Estas arcillas no son tan comunes como otras variedades. Son usadas
para la elaboracin de pisos, paredes, materiales sanitarios, etc.

Bentonita: formado por la alteracin de cenizas volcnicas. Su uso se aplica debido a la absorcin de
agua, como lodo de perforacin.

Arcilla comn: es usado para materiales de construccin como ladrillos, cementos, y agregados ligeros.

Fire clays: son todas las arcillas (excluyendo las bentonitas y las ball clays) que son usados por su
resistencia al calor para elaborar productos refractarios.

Fullers Earth: estn compuestas por el mineral palygorskita, como absorbente, pesticidas o productos
relacionados.

Caoln: compuesto por la mineral caolinita, es un ingrediente escencial en la produccin de papel de


alta calidad y porcelana refractaria.

Produccin de arcilla

Las arcillas son comunes en todo el mundo. Algunas regiones producen grandes cantidades de tipos
especficos de arcillas. Es estimado que en el estado de Georgia posee reservas de caoln de 5-10
billones de toneladas. Las naciones que producen cantidades significativas de arcillas son mostradas de
acuerdo al tipo de arcilla.

Caoln: Brasil, Reino Unido y USA son los productores principals de caoln.
Ball clay: Los principals productores son Alemania, USA, Reino Unido, Repblica Checa,
China y Francia.
Fire clays: Lo conforman Alemania y USA.
Bentonite Los principales son Alemamina, USA, Turqua y Grecia..
Fuller's Earth: Los mayors productores son USA (attapulgite, smectite), Espaa (attapulgite,
sepiolite), y Senegal (attapulgite).

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Yacimientos No Metlicos
FIGMM 2016-I.

CLAYS
Clays (differentiating the term "clay minerals") are clastic sedimentary rock and soil composed of one or
more clay minerals, with traces of oxides and organic matter. Clays are plastic due to water content and
become compact, brittle and non-plastic when dry. Clays are generally deposits of phyllosilicate
containing variable amounts of water trapped in its structure. Depending on the chemical content of the
soil where they are found, the clays can have different colors varying from white, brown, orange or red.

Figure 3. Quaternay deposit of clays (left), color of clays (right).

Clay minerals

Clay minerals commonly form as breakdown products of feldspars and other silicate minerals. They are
phyllosilicates with a layered crystal structure similar to that of micas and compositionally they are
aluminosilicates. The crystal layers are made up of silica with aluminium and magnesium ions, with
oxygen atoms linking the sheets. Two patterns of layering occur, one with two layers, the kandite group,
and the other with three layers, the smectite group.

Kaolinite is the commonest member of the kandite group and is generally formed in soil profiles in warm,
humid environments where acidic waters intensely leach bedrock lithologies such as granite. Clay
minerals of the smectite group include the expandable or swelling clays such as montmorillonite, which
can absorb water within their structure. Montmorillonite is a product of more moderate temperature
conditions in soils with neutral to alkaline pH. It also forms under alkaline conditions in arid climates.
Another three-layer clay mineral is illite, which is related to the mica group and is the most common clay
mineral in sediments, forming in soils in temperate areas where leaching is limited. Chlorite is a three-
layer clay mineral that forms most commonly in soils with moderate leaching under fairly acidic

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groundwater conditions and in soils in arid climates. Montmorillonite, illite and chlorite all form as a
weathering product of volcanic rocks, particularly volcanic glass.

Figure 4. Laminar structure of clays

Clay minerals typically form over long periods of time as a result of the gradual chemical weathering of
rocks, usually silicate-bearing, by low concentrations of carbonic acid and other diluted solvents. These
solvents, usually acidic, migrate through the weathering rock after leaching through upper weathered
layers. In addition to the weathering process, some clay minerals are formed through hydrothermal
activity. There are two types of clay deposits: primary and secondary. Primary clays form as residual
deposits in soil and remain at the site of formation. Secondary clays are clays that have been transported
from their original location by water erosion and deposited in a new sedimentary deposit. Clay deposits
are typically associated with very low energy depositional environments such as large lakes and marine
basins.

Uses of clays

Ball clays are good quality clays used mostly in pottery but are also added to other clays to improve their
plasticity. Ball clays are not as common as other clay varieties. One third of the ball clay used annually is
used to make floor and wall tiles. It is also used to make sanitary ware, pottery, and other uses.

Bentonite is formed from the alteration of volcanic ash. Bentonite is used in pet litter to absorb liquids. It
is used as a mud in drilling applications. It is also used in other industrial applications such as the
"pelletizing" of iron ore.

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Common clay is used to make construction materials such as bricks, cement, and lightweight
aggregates.

Fire clays are all clays (excluding bentonite and ball clays) that are used to make items resistant to
extreme heat. These products are called refractory products. Nearly all (81%) of fire clays are used to
make refractory products.

Fuller's earth is composed of the mineral palygorskite (at one time this mineral was called "attapulgite").
Fuller's earth is used mostly as an absorbent material (74%), but also for pesticides and pesticide-related
products (6%).

Kaolinite is a clay composed of the mineral kaolin. It is an essential ingredient in the production of high
quality paper and some refractory porcelains.

Clay production

Clays are common all over the world. Some regions, as might be expected, produce large quantities of
specific types of clay. It is estimated that the state of Georgia has kaolin clay reserves of 5 to 10 billion
tons. The United States is self-sufficient so it imports only small amounts of clay from Mexico, Brazil,
United Kingdom, Canada, and assorted other nations. The United States exports nearly half of its
production worldwide.

The nations producing the most significant amounts of the various clays are as follows:

Kaolin: Brazil, United Kingdom, and the United States are the dominant producers of high quality
kaolin.
Ball clays Major producers of ball clays are Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, the
Czech Republic, China, and France.
Fire clays Major fire clay producing countries are Germany, and the United States.
Bentonite Major producers of bentonite are the United States, Germany, Turkey, and Greece.
Fuller's earth: Major producers of fuller's earth are the United States (attapulgite, smectite), Spain
(attapulgite, sepiolite), and Senegal (attapulgite).

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