INTRODUCTION TO CLAY MINERALOGY

Introduction

Clay minerals form an important group of the phyllosilicate or sheet silicate family of minerals, which are distinguished by layered structures composed of polymeric sheets of SiO4 tetrahedra linked to sheets of (Al, Mg, Fe)(O,OH) 6 octahedra. The geochemical importance of clay minerals stems from their ubiquity in soils and sediments, high specific surface area, and ion exchange capacities. Clay minerals tends to dominate the surface chemistry of soils and sediments. Furthermore, these properties give rise to a wide range of industrial applications throughout the history of mankind. The use of clay for mainly clay figures, pottery and ceramics was already known by primitive people about 25000 years ago (Shaikh and Wik, 1986). Today clay is an important material with a large variety of applications in ceramics, oil drilling, liners for waste disposal, and the metal and paper industry. Clay is furthermore used as adsorbent, decoloration agents, ion exchanger, and molecular sieve catalyst (Fowden et al., 1984; Murray, 1991). Despite their importance, the clay minerals form a difficult group of minerals to study due to their small size, variable structural composition, and relative slow kinetics of formation and alteration.

Classification

chrysotile. Smectites having two tetrahedral sheets around the central octahedral sheet relation are known as 2:1 phyllosilicates. has one tetrahedral and one octahedral sheet (1:1). montmorillonite) is distributed over the complete oxygen framework. on the other hand. have identical 2:1 phyllosilicate oxygen frameworks. 2). The oxygen atoms define upper and lower sheets enclosing tetrahedral sites. respectively. such as. (i) Si4+ by Al3+ at tetrahedral sites. and interlayer cations results in different physical and chemical properties. viz. 1975). though no smectites.g. Na+. K+. In talc and pyrophyllite all tetrahedral sites are filled with Si 4+ and the octahedral sites either completely with Mg2+ or for 2/3 with Al3+. smectite layers have a positive charge deficiency resulting from the isomorphous substitutions. and a central sheet having the brucite or gibbsite structure enclosing octahedral sites (Fig. For comparison kaolinite.. or Ca2+. and (ii) Al3+ by Mg2+. the origin of the charge deficiency. The charge deficiency is balanced by hydrated interlayer cations. In contrast. A further designation can be made based on the type and location of the cations in the oxygen framework.Smectites are phyllosilicates or layer silicates having a layer lattice structure in which two-dimensional oxoanions are separated by layers of hydrated cations. in beidellite) leads to a . The electrically neutral sheets are bonded together by relatively weak dipolar and van der Waals forces (Giese. Differences the charge of the layers. there are eight tetrahedral and six octahedral sites. thermal stability and swelling behavior (Fig. a dioctahedral 1:1 clay. such as. The layer charge of an octahedrally substituted smectite (e. A smectite is dioctahedral if two-thirds of the octahedral sites are occupied by trivalent cations. a trioctahedral 1:1 clay. 1). Micas. and trioctahedral if all octahedral sites are filled with bivalent cations. Kaolinite. The charge deficiency of smectites is intermediate between that of micas and that of pyrophyllite and talc. whereas tetrahedral substitution (as e. Table 1 summarizes the most common smectites and their idealized structural formulas. or (iii) Mg2+ by Li+ (or a vacancy) at octahedral sites. and the micas phlogopite and paragonite are included. In one unit cell composed of twenty oxygen atoms and four hydroxyl groups.g.

.more localized charge distribution and the last smectites tend to a higher threedimensional order (Brindley. 1975). . Suquet et al. 1980.

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