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Soil, land care and environmental research

Exchangeable calcium, magnesium and sodium and the dispersion of illites in water. II. Dispersion of illites in water

WW Emerson and CL Chi

Australian Journal of Soil Research 15(3) 255 - 262
Published: 1977


Samples of illites, two extracted from soils, one from a shale, prepared with a range of exchangeable calcium, magnesium, sodium were immersed dry into water. The extent of dispersion with time was estimated visually and also deduced from the O.D. of the suspensions derived from the dispersed clay. The dispersion of wet calcium and magnesium soil illites sheared at a given water content and then immersed in water was also assessed visually. The dispersion of all three illites was enhanced when magnesium was the dominant cation rather than calcium. For the soil clays a lower ESP was required to initiate dispersion of the dry clay when immersed in water. Both calcium and magnesium forms of the shale illite dispersed partially over a period of several days when immersed dry into water, the magnesium to a greater extent than calcium. The magnesium form of the coarser of the two soil illites also dispersed slowly. By comparing the calcium-magnesium and calcium-sodium forms of the last clay, it was deduced that about 10 times the equivalent concentration of exchangeable magnesium as sodium was needed to cause the same degree of dispersion. For the other soil illite the water content for dispersion of the wet, sheared magnesium clay was found to be less than for the calcium clay. The O.D. of suspensions of the clays was found to decrease with increasing ESP and when magnesium was the dominant cation rather than calcium. This is explained in terms of particle aggregation. The ease of dispersion of the illites was correlated with particle size. Possible reasons for this, and the effect of magnesium, as opposed to calcium, on the forces between the clay particles are discussed.

© CSIRO 1977

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