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Clay Mineral

Last updated date: 23rd Feb 2024
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Meaning of Clay Mineral

Clay minerals are the hydrous aluminium phyllosilicates that are available at times with varying amounts of iron, alkali, metals, magnesium, alkaline earth, and such other cations. They are generally found on or near some planetary surfaces. Clay minerals are formed mainly in the presence of water. They are proved to be very important to our life. Other theories of abiogenesis are involved in them. With them, they carry important constituents of the soils which have been beneficial to humans since time immemorial. 

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In this Section, we will know about Various Types of Clay and Their Constituents. 

Kaolinite Clay or China Clay

The clay mineral is termed Kaolinite which has Al2Si2O5(OH)4 as its chemical composition. Kaolinite Clay is very much important as an industrial mineral. Kaolinite is a layered mineral of silicate coupled with silica which is SiO4, this is further linked through the oxygen atoms to an octahedral sheet of the alumina (AlO6) octahedra. Rocks that are rich in kaolinite are called the kaolin or also known as China Clay. 


Bentonite is a type of absorbent swelling clay which majorly consists of montmorillonite.  This type of clay usually is formed from the weathering of the volcanic ash in the presence of seawater, after which it converts into volcanic gases that are present in the ash and clayey minerals. The Bentonite beds are white or pale blue or green in colour when exposed to fresh exposures, they can also turn to a cream colour and after which they can turn into yellow, red, or brown as the exposure is more.  


Montmorillonite is a very soft mineral that comes under the group of phyllosilicate minerals. These mineral forms when they precipitate from the water solution in the form of microscopic crystals. Called clay. This clay is named after Montmorillon in the country France.  The clay is in the ratio of 2:1, which means that it has two tetrahedral sheets of silica and a single octahedral sheet of the alumina. The particles are featured as plate-shaped with an average diameter of around 1 micrometer and have a thickness of about 0.96 nm. 

Powdered Bentonite

Bentonite clay is used by human beings to remove impurities on their skin, like oils, and other toxins from the body. This practice is done for thousands of years. Bentonite clay is also present in many skincare products. While some people also add this to foods or drinks with the aim to improve digestive issues or to remove toxins from the body.

Types of Clays

The main four types of clay are as follow:

  • Earthenware clay

  • Stoneware clay

  • Ball clay

  • Porcelain. 

All of these clays are used to make pottery. These seem all same but the texture, colour, and flexibilities differ a great deal.  


Magnesium Tosudite is a clay mineral with a 1:1 ratio interstratification of the compound name trioctahedral Mg chlorite and Sudoite and also dioctahedral Smectite.


Smectite is also a clay mineral (like bentonite) that undergoes reversible expansion while absorbing the water.


Sepiolite is the English name, while in German it is known as meerschaum which means ‘sea foam’. This is soft textured while clayey mineral which is often used in making tobacco pipes also called the meerschaum pipes. This is a complex magnesium silicate which is a specific chemical formula Mg4Si6O15(OH)2·6H2O, this can be present in the fibrous, fine-particulate, and solid forms.


Pyrophyllite is a type of mineral which is phyllosilicate and this is composed of aluminium silicate hydroxide, the chemical formula which is Al2Si4O10(OH)2. This occurs in two forms crystalline folia and the form of compact masses, while there are distinct crystals as well which are well known.  

Pyrophyllite which occurs in the phyllite and schistose rocks is generally associated with kyanite used as an altered product.

Ball Clay

Ball clays are made up of kaolinitic sedimentary clays which are commonly constituted with 20–80% of kaolinite, 10 to 25% mica 6 to 5% of quartz. The localized seams in the same deposit have variations in their composition, this includes the quantity of these major minerals, which are accessorized minerals and carbonaceous materials like lignite. They form fine-grained and quite is quite plastic in nature, and this is unlike the earthenware clay. They produce fine quality pottery with white colour body.

FAQs on Clay Mineral

1. What do You Mean by Phyllosilicates?

Ans. Phyllosilicates are the layer of compounds that are formed by the lamellas that include two layers of tetrahedra and also an intermediate octahedral layer. The Substitution of silicon by the aluminium in the tetrahedral layer or the aluminium by another twofold is the cation which confers another negative charge to the lamella particle.

Phyllosilicates are actually the sheet of Silicate minerals that are formed by the formation of parallel sheets of silicate tetrahedra with the chemical composition of Si2O5 in a 2:5 ratio.

2. What do You Mean by Sodium Bentonite?

Ans. Sodium bentonite is a natural sealant that functions in sealing the stock and used for recreational ponds, dairy materials, and sewage lagoons, and also in city landfills. This is quite effective as a whole plug as well as for controlling the dust on the highway roads. Sodium bentonite is considered one of the “most effective low-cost methods” to treat porous soils.

Bentonite itself might not be more toxic than any other particulate. Otherwise not regulated and unclassified as a carcinogen by any of the regulatory or an advisory body, but some of this bentonite might contain variable amounts of respirable crystalline silica, which is a recognized human carcinogen.

3. What is Abiogenesis?

Ans. With the further evolution in the study of biology, abiogenesis, or which is also known as the origin of life, informally is actually the natural process through which life has arisen from non-living matter like simple organic compounds. Many of these approaches to abiogenesis has investigated how the self-replicating molecules, or their own components, came into this mortal existence.