Hydration behavior by X-ray diffraction profile fitting of smectite-bearing minerals

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    • Publication Information:
      EDP Sciences, 2020.
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    • Abstract:
      Clay mineral hydration and dehydration processes are reversible at temperatures aw, controlled by salinity) and temperature was studied using in situ X-ray diffraction on a material retrieved from coring in the Gulf of Mexico. X-ray diffraction profile fitting was used to explore the competition for water between hydratable phases across a range of relative humidity, 2 % to 90 %, and temperature, 25°C to 95°C, conditions. X-ray diffraction profile fitting employed a modified multi-specimen approach in which proportions of minerals were modelled using Ca-exchanged preparations in air-dried and ethylene glycol solvated states. Across the range of hydration states, the mineral proportions and crystallographic parameters remained constant from the multi-specimen approach and only the number of water layers in hydratable phases varied. Quantitative clay mineralogy showed a natural material with a discrete smectite component and a mixed-layered illite-smectite, both capable of hydration/dehydration. Results of this study showed the discrete smectite component and the mixed-layered illite-smectite hydrated at different rates with discrete smectite up-taking more water at lower relative humidity than the mixed-layered illite-smectite. Over geological time this study highlights the non-static nature of smectite hydration with implications of long-term creep and permeability behavior.
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