NATURE OF CLAY.
The term clay is applied to a natural substance or rock which, whenfinely ground and mixed with water, forms a pasty, moldable mass that preserves its shape when air dried, and when burned changes to a hard, rock-like substance by the coalescence of its particles, through softening under the action of heat.
A microscopic examination of clay shows that it is made up of a great number of small mineral fragments of many different kinds and of varying shape, ranging in size from. those which are under 1/1000 mm. in diameter (known as clay) up to grains of sand which are sufficiently large to be easily visible to the naked eye. The smaller particles predominate.
Since clays vary mineralogically they vary also chemically, but the plasticity may remain the same through a wide range of chemical composition, and this property is evidently not dependent on the chemical composition alone, but is due rather to some physical cause. The plasticity may be destroyed by heating the clay to a sufficiently high temperature to drive off the chemically combined water. Although varying in their mineral composition, most clays are supposed to contain more or less of the mineral kaolinite (a hydrated silicate of alumina), which is commonly referred to as the clay base or clay substance. The adoption of the latter term has probably arisen from the fact that many have 'considered this mineral to be the cause of plasticity, an idea now known to be somewhat incorrect, because some of the most plastic clays contain but small quantities of kaolinite, and vice versa.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Title||The clays of the United States east of the Mississippi River|
|Series title||Professional Paper|
|Publisher||Government Printing Office|
|Publisher location||Washington, D.C.|
|Online Only (Y/N)||N|
|Additional Online Files (Y/N)||N|