Extensive deposits of kaolinite in Florida are formed by transformation of montmorillonite during low-temperature supergene weathering. The transformation occurs by intracrystalline leaching of interlayer cations and tetrahedral silica layers. Interposition of stripped layers within montmorillonite creates a regular 1:1 mixed-layered montmorillonite-kaolinite, a new clay structure. Kaolin-like layers are nourished by lateral epitaxy, as the iron-rich montmorillonite decomposes. Hexagonal outgrowths of new kaolinite develop at the edges of montmorillonite flakes and nucleate new vertical growth. Kaolinitic sands impregnated with goethite are ultimately formed, and the released silica enriches groundwater and forms secondary chert.
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Transformation of montmorillonite to kaolinite during weathering