A survey of the clay fraction at the surface of 86 loam and silt loam agricultural soils from the Central United States was undertaken to observe the possible influences of climate and parent material (dominantly phyllosilicates in this study) on the clay mineralogy of the upper portions of the soils, for the most part in Mollisol–Alfisol order soils.
Decomposed X-ray diffraction spectra show that the most abundant clay minerals are two disordered illite-smectite (I-S) minerals, one with ~50% smectite layers and another, less abundant, disordered I-S phase with 20% smectite. These minerals usually co-exist in the same samples. The charge site in both of these I-S minerals is both beidellitic and montmorillonitic in the expanding layers. A relatively large proportion of these smectite layers (up to 20%) are of high charge. There seems to be a convergence in mineralogy towards mixed-layer phases formed under a range of mid-Continent climates from a range of phyllosilicate parent materials.