Refinement of the Crystal Structure of Nacrite

Alice M. Blount, I. M. Threadgold* and S. W. Bailey
Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc. 53706
* Present address: Department of Geology, University of Sydney.

Abstract: The crystal structure of nacrite from Pike's Peak district, Colorado, has been refined by least squares and electron density difference maps utilizing ten levels of data. Complete refinement was inhibited by thick domains involving a/3 interlayer shifts in the “wrong direction”. The ideal structure is based on a 6R stacking sequence of kaolin layers, in which each successive layer is shifted relative to the layer below by −⅓ of the 8·9 Å lateral repeat. This direction is X in nacrite, contrary to the usual convention for layer silicates, because of the positioning of the (010) symmetry planes normal to the 5·1 Å repeat direction. Alternate layers are also rotated by 180°. The pattern of vacant octahedral sites reduces the symmetry to Cc and permits description of the structure as a 2-layer form with an inclined Z axis.

Adjacent tetrahedra are twisted by 7·3° in opposite directions so that the basal oxygens approach more closely both the Al cations in the same layer and the surface hydroxyls of the layer below. Interlocking corrugations in the oxygen and hydroxyl surfaces of adjacent layers run alternately parallel to the [110] and [11¯0] zones in successive layers. The upper and lower anion triads in each Al-octahedron are rotated by 5·4° and 7·0° in opposite directions as a result of shared edge shortening. Nacrite has a greater interlayer separation and smaller lateral dimensions than dickite and kaolinite, and the observed β angle deviates by 1½° from the ideal value. These features, as well as its overall lesser stability, are believed due to the less favorable positioning in nacrite of the basal oxygens relative to the directed interlayer hydrogen bonds.

Clays and Clay Minerals; August 1969 v. 17; no. 3; p. 185-194; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1969.0170307
© 1969, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)