A new method for determining the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of clays is proposed. The method is based on X-ray fluorescence analysis of natural and Ba-exchanged clays following the analytical procedure suggested by Franzini et al. (1975). This procedure, which utilizes powder pellets and is based on a full matrix correction method, is frequently applied in Earth Sciences laboratories for the routine analysis of minerals and rocks. For the analysis of Ba-exchanged clays, Franzini’s procedure has been modified slightly to account for the contribution of Ba to matrix effects.

The new method, which furnishes both the CEC and the chemical compositions of the whole natural clay samples, has been tested on the eight ‘Source Clays’ of The Clay Minerals Society. The results compare well with data reported in the literature and confirm the accuracy and precision of the method and make it a valid alternative to techniques based on wet chemistry, execution of which is usually more time-consuming and which often requires greater analytical skill.

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