Laboratory studies performed upon the flocculation tendencies of dispersed clay particles and oil emulsions in both fresh and brackish waters demonstrate that oils and clays form spontaneous association colloids or colloidal electrolytes in the presence of dissolved salts. Oil sedimentation seems to be caused mainly by adsorption of oil films onto clay particles which are subsequently flocculated by electrolytic action, rather than by the adsorption of discrete oil globules onto the clay floccules. Observed sinks of surface oil slicks in marine areas may therefore be due to the colloidal flocculating abilities of the dissolved salt, rather than to inherent coagulation properties of oils and suspended clays.

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