Alteration and Formation of Clay Minerals During Cat Clay Development

Warren C. Lynn1 and Lynn D. Whittig
Department of Soils and Plant Nutrition, University of California, Davis
* Present address: Soil Survey Laboratory, SCS, USDA, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Abstract: The natural tidelands sediments along the north shore of San Pablo Bay, California, are neutral in reaction and subjected to a wet, reducing environment conducive to ferrous sulfide accumulation. When the sediments are diked and drained, the environment rapidly becomes oxidizing and generally dry. Oxidation of the ferrous sulfide results in extremely acid cat clays within a year or two.

Undrained sediments from the area contain montmorillonite, chlorite, mica, and kaolinite that all give sharp X-ray diffraction patterns. Sediments drained for 6 years, although strongly acid, have virtually the same clay mineralogy as the undrained sediments. However, sediments drained for 60 years show a general deterioration of crystalline clay minerals, particularly chlorite. The deterioration decreases with depth until the deeper zones closely resemble the undrained sediments.

In separate laboratory experiments, chlorites were formed in an oxidized soil that was subjected to reducing conditions simulating the enviromnent of the undrained tidelands sediments. The possibility exists, therefore, that chlorites in the undrained sediments may have formed subsequent to deposition.

Clays and Clay Minerals; 1966 v. 14; no. 1; p. 241-248; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1966.0140121
© 1966, The Clay Minerals Society
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