In the course of hydrothermal experiments with a saponitic clay, evidence for the dissolution of the accessory sepiolite and the formation of smectite has been detected above 120 degrees C. Hydrothermal reactions with a clay to water ratio of 1:3 were performed at temperatures of 60, 90, 120, 175 and 200 degrees C with time intervals of one month to one year. The BET surface area and cation exchange capacity (CEC) are correlated with the sepiolite and the smectite content determined from XRD data. These relations have been used to recalculate the time dependence of the mineral contents in the time/temperature conditions of the experiments. The E a values obtained for sepiolite dissolution (7-18 kcal/mol) or smectite formation (4.8-5 kcal/mol) indicate that sepiolite dissolution controls the rate of the process. Both results fit an apparent first-order reaction and the system seems to evolve to a stable mineral composition in a short time period, ranging from one to 10 years as temperature decreases.

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