3. Formation and alteration of clay materials
The formation and alteration of clay minerals and their accumulation as clay materials can occur by a very wide range of processes. In one way or another, however, most of these processes and the environments in which they operate involve the chemical actions and physical movement of water. As such, clay minerals can be considered the characteristic minerals of the Earth;s near surface hydrous environments, including that of weathering, sedimentation, diagenesis/low-grade metamorphism and hydrothermal alteration (Fig. 3.1). Simply defined, the weathering environment is that in which rocks and the minerals they contain are altered by processes determined by the atmosphere, hydrosphere and the biosphere. Soil formation, also known as pedogenesis, occurs in the weathering environment. The sedimentary environment is the zone in which, soil, weathered rock and mineral (and biogenic) materials are eroded, mixed and deposited as sediments by water, wind and ice. Diagenesis involves all those physical and chemical processes that occur between sedimentation and metamorphism, whilst hydrothermal alteration encompasses the interactions between heated water and rock.
In this chapter, the origins of the various clay minerals that may occur in each of these environments are reviewed along with the processes that may lead to their accumulation and alteration, usually together with other components, to form clay materials. In many instances, clay materials are formed in one environment by the accumulation or alteration of clay minerals formed in others. Thus the geological history of a clay material, and consequently its properties and behaviour, may depend on many processes separated in both time and space.
Figures & Tables
Concluding the trilogy on geological materials in construction by specially convened Geological Society working parties, this authoritative volume reviews many uses of clays, ranginf from simple fills to manufactured products. Comprehensive and international coverage is achieved by an expert team, including geologists, engineers and architects, who met over six years to produce the book. Packed with information prepared for a wide readership, this unique handbook is also copiously illustrated. The volume is dedicated to the memory of Professor Sir Alec Skempton.
Various definitions of ‘clay’ are explored. Clay mineralogy is described, plust the geological formation of clay deposits and their fundamental materials properties. World and British clay deposits are reviewed. New compositional data are provided for clay informations throughout the British stratigraphic column. Investigate techniques and interpretation are considered, ranging from site exploration to laboratory asessment of composition and engineering performance.
Major civil engineering applications are addressed, including earthworks, earthmoving and specialized roles utilizing clays. Traditional earthen building is included and shown to dominate construction in places. Clay-based construction materials are detailed, including bricks, ceramics and cements. The volume also includes a comprehensive glossary.