Minerals that show mixed layering, particularly with the component layers in random sequence, pose problems because they may behave thermodynamically as single phases or as polyphase aggregates. Two operational criteria are proposed for their distinction. The first scheme requires two samples of mixed-layer material which differ only in the proportions of the layers. If each of these two samples are allowed to equilibrate with the same suitably chosen monitoring solution, then the intensive parameters of the solution will be invariant if the mixed-layer sample is a polyphase aggregate, but not otherwise. The second scheme makes use of the fact that portions of many titration curves of clay minerals show constancy of the chemical activities of the components in the equilibrating solutions, suggesting phase separation. If such phase separation occurs for a mixed-layer material, then, knowing the number of independent components in the system, it should be possible to decide on the number of phases the mixed-layer material represents. Knowledge of the phase status of mixed-layer material is essential to the study of the equilibrium relations of mineral assemblages involving such material, because a given mixed-layer mineral will be plotted and treated differently on a phase diagram, depending on whether it is a single phase or a polyphase aggregate. Extension of the titration technique to minerals other than the mixed-layer type is possible. In particular, this method may be used to determine if cryptoperthites and peristerites are polyphase aggregates. In general, for any high-order phase separation, the method may be used to decide just at what point in this continuous process the system must be regarded operationally as a polyphase aggregate. ?? 1962.
Additional publication details
Problem of the thermodynamic status of the mixed-layer minerals