Use of X-Ray Transmission Diffractometry for the Study of Clay-Particle Orientation at Different Water Contents

A.C. Iñigo1, D. Tessier2 and M. Pernes2
1 IRNA, Cordel de Merinas 40-52, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
2 INRA, Science du Sol, 78026 Versailles, France
E-mail of corresponding author: tessier@versailles.inra.fr

Abstract: Homoionic Ca-saturated clay pastes were prepared and drying curves were obtained by applying suction pressures from 1 kPa to 100 MPa. A transmission device was used to study particle orientation by placing the clay in a cell specially designed to obtain diagrams corresponding to different sample orientations. The 00l and hk0 reflections were compared to determine the best reflections for studying clay-particle orientation. Depending on the clay, 00l reflections or the 020 reflection and/or hkl bands can be used to analyze orientation. In many cases the 020 reflection is preferred because the intensity of the peak is high and appears to be independent of the H2O content and the degree of stacking order of layers along the [001] direction.

For interstratified clays, the conditions required to obtain 00l reflections depended on several factors, the most important of which is the water content. Also, the intensity relating to particie orientation depends on (1) particle extension (size) in the (001) plane and (2) the crystal structure. Illite crystals of <1000 Å gave a poorly oriented clay matrix. In contrast, large aggregates of illite, smectite, and kaolinite particles (>10,000 Å) showed a strongly oriented system. The particles of smectites may be curved and the dry material was poorly oriented owing to weak cohesion forces between the layers in comparison to illite.

The study of the orientation of particles by X-ray diffraction on hydrated samples may be affected by sample mounting techniques. Any change in the content or the way the sample is mounted may modify the microstructure of a material.

Clay containing a high water content affects the disorientation of particles, whereas, for the dry samples, pore size, pore volume, and solid continuity are associated with the geometry and crystal structure of the clay matrix.

Key Words: Clay • Hydration • Illite • Microstructure • Particle Orientation • Smectite • Transmission X-ray Diffraction

Clays and Clay Minerals; December 2000 v. 48; no. 6; p. 682-692; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.2000.0480609
© 2000, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)