Abstract: Investigations concerning selective sorption and fixation of K and similar cations by clay minerals and soil clays and the mechanisms of these reactions are reviewed. In particular, recent observations on selective sorption of these ions in dilute solutions by weathered micas and vermiculite in relation to the interlayer structures are discussed in detail. Also, implications of the resistance to weathering of small mica particles to cation selectivity by soils are described. Despite the increased understanding of sorption and fixation reactions, the following aspects remain unclear.
First, the mechanism of the collapse of alternate layers in vermiculite on K or Cs sorption has not been unequivocally established. Second, factors that impart stability to the central core of mica particles so that K extraction becomes progressively difficult are not known. Third, inability of Ca or Mg ions to expand interlayers of Cs-saturated vermiculite in contrast to K-saturated vermiculite is not completely understood.