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Clay Minerals

Definition: Clay minerals are the characteristic minerals of the earths near surface environments. They
form in soils and sediments, and by diagenetic and hydrothermal alteration of rocks. Water is essential
for clay mineral formation and most clay minerals are described as hydrous alumino silicates.
Structurally, the clay minerals are composed of planes of cations, arranged in sheets, which may be
tetrahedrally or octahedrally coordinated (with oxygen), which in turn are arranged into layers often
described as 2:1 if they involve units composed of two tetrahedral and one octahedral sheet or 1:1 if
they involve units of alternating tetrahedral and octahedral sheets. Additionally some 2:1 clay minerals
have interlayers sites between successive 2:1 units which may be occupied by interlayer cations, which
are often hydrated. The planar structure of clay minerals give rise to characteristic platy habit of many
and to perfect cleavage, as seen for example in larger hand specimens of micas.

The classification of the phyllosilicate clay minerals is based collectively, on the features of layer type
(1:1 or 2:1), the dioctahedral or trioctahedral character of the octahedral sheets (i.e. 2 out of 3 or 3 out
of 3 sites occupied), the magnitude of any net negative layer charge due to atomic substitutions, and the
nature of the interlayer material.

The basis on which clay minerals are classified is shown below; see Hillier (2003) for a more detailed
introduction to clay mineralogy.
LAYER TYPE Layer charge (q) Group Subgroup Species (e.g.)
1:1 q0 Kaolin-Serpentine Kaolin Kaolinite
Serpentine Berthierine
2:1 q0 q1 Increasing Pyrophyllite-talc Pyrophyllite Pyrophyllite
layer Talc Talc
charge Smectite (q0.2-0.6) Di-smectite Montmorillonite
Tri-smectite Saponite
Vermiculite (q0.6-0.9) Di-vermiculite Di-vermiculite
Tri-vermiculite Tri-vermiculite
Mica (q1.0) Di-mica Illite, Muscovite
Tri-mica Biotite
q variable Chlorite Di-chlorite Sudoite
Tri-chlorite Chamosite
Sepiolite-Palygorskite Sepiolite Sepiolite
Palygorskite Palygorskite
Variable q variable Mixed-layer Di-mica-di-smectite Rectorite
Tri-chlorite-tri-smectite Corrensite

Analyses: Some types of clay minerals such as mixed-layered clay minerals can only be identified
precisely by techniques such as XRD. Although it is not unusual to have to use a variety of techniques
such as XRD, infrared spectroscopy, and electron microscopy to characterise and more fully understand
types of clay minerals present in a sample. We have extensive experience of the identification of clay
minerals in both soils and rocks. Our XRD work is based is backed up by our ability to compare clay
mineral diffraction data with calculated diffraction data. This is a particularly important technique for
the precise identification of mixed-layer clay minerals. Our track record in the Reynolds Cup round robin
on quantitative clay mineral analysis is testimony to the quality of our work on the identification and
quantification of clay minerals. We also have wide experience of the use of electron microscopy to study
the texture and petrographic relationships of clay minerals. A useful gallery of clay mineral images

'Images of Clay'

The 'Images of Clay' Archive is an ongoing project of the Society's Clay Minerals Group and The Clay
Minerals Society (USA). The idea behind this project is to build a collection of high quality images that
are freely available to all to download for non-profit purposes, such as the teaching of clay mineralogy
(see the copyright statement below). Suitable images include electron micrographs of clay minerals, or
indeed any image associated with the study of clay mineralogy. Anyone wishing to contribute images to
the archive should e-mail them to to Steve Hillier, at stephen.hillier@hutton.ac.uk

Allophane

Alunite
Chlorite (sudoite)

Chlorite (sudoite)

Chlorite + illite

Chlorite, Fe-Al-rich
Chlorite, Fe-Al-rich, vermiform

Chlorite, Fe-rich

Chlorite, Fe-rich

Chlorite, Fe-rich
Chlorite, Mg-rich

Corrensite

Corrensite

Corrensite
Corrensite

Corrensite

Dickite

Dickite
Dickite

Dickite

Dickite

Dickite
Gibbsite

Glauconite

Halloysite

Halloysite (hollow tubes)


Halloysite (prismatic)

Halloysite (prismatic)

Halloysite (spheroidal)

Halloysite - coating weathered mica


Halloysite - cryo-image

Halloysite - on surface of K-feldspar with albite dissolution lamellae

Halloysite - tubular

Halloysite and gibbsite


Halloysite spheroidal

Hematite

Hematite, bladed

Illite
Illite

Illite, Fe-rich

Illite, fibrous

Illite, fibrous
Illite, laths

Illite, platy

Kaolinite

Kaolinite
Kaolinite

Kaolinite

Kaolinite

Kaolinite, platy
Kaolinite, Pugu

Kaolinite, stacked

Kaolinite, vermiform

Mordenite and clinoptilolite/heulandite


Mordenite, clinoptilolite-heulandite and smectite

Nacrite

Opal

Palygorskite
Palygorskite

Palygorskite

Palygorskite

Palygorskite
Palygorskite

Phillipsite

Phillipsite

Sepiolite
Sepiolite

Smectite

Smectite

Smectite
Smectite - mortmorillonite

Smectite, dioctahedral

Smectite, dioctahedral

Smectite, montmorillonite
Smectite, montmorillonite

Smectite, montmorillonite

Smectite, nontronitic

Smectite, nontronitic
Smectite, nontronitic

Smectite, nontronitic

Smectite, nontronitic

Smectite, nontronitic
Smectite, soil

Smectite, soil

Smectite, trioctahedral

Smectite, trioctahedral
Smectite, trioctahedral

Smectite, trioctahedral

Smectite, variety hectorite

Smectite, variety hectorite


Smectite, variety nontronite with bacteria

Smectite, volkonskite (Cr-smectite)

Talc, Fe-rich
Tosudite

Vermiculite'
http://www.minersoc.org/files/vermiculite-video.mp4

These images are free to all to download for non-profit purposes. All published uses of images from this
gallery should acknowledge the source using the following term "Image reproduced from the 'Images of
Clay Archive' of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain & Ireland and The Clay Minerals Society
(www.minersoc.org/gallery.php?id=2.")

To download a copy of an image, click on the photograph of interest to enlarge it, then right click (pc)
and select "save picture as" to make a local copy." Note that there are no higher-resolution versions of
these figures available.

Anyone wishing to contribute images to the archive should e-mail them to to Steve Hillier, at
stephen.hillier@hutton.ac.uk. Please download and complete the copyright form here and send a copy,
by post or by email, to: Steve Hillier, The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH,
Scotland (stephen.hillier@hutton.ac.uk) at the same time.

Source : http://www.claysandminerals.com