The hydrothermal reactivity of a smectite saturated with K was studied experimentally at 300 degrees C and 100 bar in (Na,K) chloride solutions (Na/K = 0, 50 and 100, liquid/ solid ratio = 10/1). X-ray diffraction, TEM and microprobe results show: (1) a partial to total dissolution of the initial smectite layers; and (2) the crystallization of newly-formed euhedral I-S. Random I-S is formed after 7 days, but an ordered mixed-layer I-S containing <30% expandable layers formed in the longest runs (112 days). The I-S is characterized by non-expandable layers of two distinct types: dehydrated smectite and illite. The Si content is lower in the I-S than in the initial smectite, thus creating a charge deficit, mostly compensated by the introduction of Na to the interlayer space, and yielding a silica release to the solution and subsequent crystallization of quartz and cristobalite.

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