Three raw samples of Fe-rich smectites from Gafsa (Jebels Shemsi and Hammadi, Tunisia) have been characterized by different techniques which indicate that they contain (15–20%) illite, probably interstratified and to a lesser extent they also contain kaolinite, calcite, quartz and Fe oxides. These samples present a relatively high Fe content (~9%) in the <2 μm fraction. From EPR and Mössbauer spectroscopy it is deduced that Fe is mainly present as Fe(III) in the octahedral environment of smectites and also in Fe-oxyhydroxides associated with the clays. Aluminium-pillared clays have been prepared from the Na+-purified samples, and their thermal stability and acidity have been studied.

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