Conditions of Kaolinite Formation During Alteration of Some Silicates by Water at 200°C

A. Oberlin and R. Couty
Centre de Recherche sur les Solides à Organisation Cristalline Imparfaite, C.N.R.S., Rue de la Férollerie, 45-Orléans-La-Source, France

Abstract: When a mineral of the montmorillonite group, saturated with Na cations, is placed in a dilute solution of hydrochloric acid, and maintained at 200°C, it should alter and produce the corresponding mineral of the kaolinite group, according to the following reaction: triphormic clay + H+ ⇌ diphormic clay + SiO2 + Na+. The formation of the diphormic clay should depend only on the value of the [Na+]/[H+] ratio, for the various temperatures used in the process. In a number of experiments, a few minerals of various types were subjected to this alteration process, carried out under a wide variety of conditions; namely, duration of the alteration treatment, clay and acid concentrations and value of the [Na+]/[H+] ratio. Formation of kaolinite, was not found but instead either an amorphous gel, or a well-crystallized boehmite, or else no dissolution at all of the initial mineral. We have already shown that a feldspar, when subjected to an alteration under similar conditions, never produces kaolinite, but forms a poorly crystallized boehmite instead. This intermediate product is the only one able to fix silica in its numerous active sites, and thus produce kaolinite. In this investigation we sought to induce a formation of poorly crystallized boehmite, from montmorillonites, with a view to a subsequent growth of kaolinite. This was achieved by inserting layers of aluminum hydroxy-polymer between the layers of a montmorillonite, followed by an alteration conducted under the same conditions as previously. At the end of a 17 hr treatment, a number of fibers of poorly crystallized boehmite (pseudo-boehmite b) appeared. At the end of a 15 days period, large amounts of kaolinite were formed, and kaolinite alone remained at the end of one month. These experiments substantiate the need of some ‘storage’ of the aluminum in an intermediate poorly crystallized mineral. This is an essential preliminary condition to any formation of clay. This clay can be formed only when the silica-monomer can be fixed on active sites of the intermediate product.

Clays and Clay Minerals; December 1970 v. 18; no. 6; p. 347-356; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1970.0180607
© 1970, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)