Three mechanisms for clay mineral formation (inheritance, neoformation, and transformation) operating in three geological environments (weathering, sedimentary, and diagenetic-hydrothermal) yield nine possibilities for the origin of clay minerals in nature. Several of these possibilities are discussed in terms of the rock cycle. The mineralogy of clays neoformed in the weathering environment is a function of solution chemistry, with the most dilute solutions favoring formation of the least soluble clays. After erosion and transportation, these clays may be deposited on the ocean floor in a lateral sequence that depends on floccule size. Clays undergo little reaction in the ocean, except for ion exchange and the neoformation of smectite; therefore, most clays found on the ocean floor are inherited from adjacent continents. Upon burial and heating, however, dioctahedral smectite reacts in the diagenetic environment to yield mixed-layer illite-smectite, and finally illite. With uplift and weathering, the cycle begins again. Refs.
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Clay mineral formation and transformation in rocks and soils
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences