SWy-1 and SAz-1 smectites and an Italian bentonite from Sardinia were mechanically deformed via high-energy ball milling for 20 h, in a controlled thermodynamic environment at constant temperature (25°C) under vacuum. The deformed smectites have a lower cation exchange capacity (CEC) and form thicker particles than the original ones, due to agglomeration of smectite crystallites. The 001 diffraction maximum shifted to lower d spacings, the intensity of the 060 reflection decreased and the background at 20–30°2𝛉 increased, suggesting partial amorphization of the smectite. Moreover, the layer charge of the smectites decreased. The intensity of the complex stretching band at 3625 cm−1, and the AlAlOH, and AlFe3+OH bending bands at 916 cm−1 and 886 cm−1, respectively, decreased, while the band at AlMgOH bending at 849 cm−1, disappeared. Deformation mainly disrupted the octahedral sheet and preferentially destroyed those sites occupied by Mg cations, thus explaining the observed decrease in layer charge. Octahedral sites occupied by Fe were least affected. The disruption of the octahedral sheet is substantiated further by the almost total disappearance of the dehydroxylation peak, which is more pronounced in the Mg-rich SAz-1 smectite.

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