Abstract

Pyrophyllite is the precursor to other smectite-group minerals which exhibit swelling. The mineral structure of pyrophyllite can lead to other minerals in the smectite group, including montmorillonite, through appropriate isomorphous substitutions. In this work, an atomic model of the pyrophyllite interlayer was constructed. The response of the interlayer was evaluated using steered molecular dynamics simulations. In steered molecular dynamics, external forces were applied to individual atoms to study the response of the model to applied forces. In this work, forces are applied to the surface clay atoms to evaluate the displacement vs. applied stress in the interlayer between clay layers. This paper describes the construction of the model, the simulation procedure, and the results of the simulations which show that under the applied loading, deformation occurs mainly in the interlayer. The clay layers show relatively little deformation. The results show that the relationship between applied stress and displacement of the interlayer is linear. The stress-deformation relationship for the interlayer is presented.

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