This study focuses on the mineralogical and geotechnical characterization of northern Moroccan clays from the Tangier and Tetouan areas and compares them with the main clay deposits used in the Moroccan ceramic industry (from Meknes, Fes, Salé and Safi regions). Sampled clays were analysed by X-ray diffraction on bulk and clay (<2 μm) fractions to identify the mineralogical assemblages of the clay outcrops. Further analyses were conducted to determine the particle size distribution (laser diffraction particle analyser), the total organic matter content (Loss-On-Ignition measurements) and the Atterberg limits of the raw clays. The study aims at investigating the spatial variability of the clay samples and at evaluating their potential application as raw materials in the ceramic industry.
Tetouan and Tangier clays are characterized by diversified mineralogical assemblages (in particular a variable proportion of clay, quartz and calcite) compared with the Meknes, Fes, Salé and Safi clays (high clay content, quartz and calcite). The clay fraction of the Tetouan and Tangier samples is dominated by illite and kaolinite with variable amounts of chlorite, smectite and/or vermiculite. Illite is the dominant phase in the Meknes, Fes, Safi and Salé clays, but is associated with kaolinite. No direct relationship between the mineral assemblage composition and the lithology of the series was found.
The clays materials studied consist generally of fine particles with medium to high plasticity and low organic matter content. Due to their mineralogy, grain-size distribution and plasticity the clays appear to be suitable as raw material for the growing Morocco ceramic industry.