Smectite to Illite Conversion Rates: Effects of Solution Chemistry

Herman E. Roberson and Richard W. Lahann1
Department of Geological Sciences & Environmental Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, New York 13901
1 Present address: Exploration Research Division, Conoco Corporation, Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601.

Abstract: Mixed-layer illite/smectite (I/S) was formed by reacting the Chambers or Polkville montmorillonite hydrothermally at 270° and 350°C from several hours to more than 15 weeks. Reactions were conducted in closed vessels containing K or mixed K-Na, K-Ca, or K-Mg solutions of varying concentrations. The reaction rate and the rate of ordering of I/S for the reaction smectite + K+ → mixed-layer I/S + SiO2 was inhibited by the addition of Na+ Ca2+, and Mg2+; the inhibitory strength of Na+, Ca2+ and Mg2+, on an equivalent basis, increased approximately in the ratio 1:10:30. The first order reaction-rate constants for the reactions at 270° and 350°C indicate an activation energy of about 30 kcal/mole.

In the experimental system studied, the reaction smectite → mixed-layer I/S appeared to proceed by solid state transformation, as suggested by: (1) rapid dissolution of large amounts of silica, probably creating an Al-enriched residue; (2) similarity of particle size and morphology of the mixed-layer products to those of the original montmorillonite, implying no extensive dissolution of Al3+; and (3) relatively high activation energy compared to published values for silicate dissolution.

Key Words: Hydrothermal • Illite • Mixed layer • Reaction rate • Silica dissolution • Smectite

Clays and Clay Minerals; April 1981 v. 29; no. 2; p. 129-135; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1981.0290207
© 1981, The Clay Minerals Society
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