Statistical Distribution Patterns of Particle Size and Shape in the Georgia Kaolins
High resolution electron micrographic techniques have been employed for surveying the size and shape distributions of kaolinite particles, both plates and stacks, from well-crystallized Georgia deposits.
Both size and shape follow typical, positively-skewed, frequency distributions. Particle thicknesses among plates appear quantized, dominantly as hoxalaminae and subordinately as trilaminae of the basic c-axis dimension in the unit cell. Specimens subjected to severe shear and attrition show intermediate values of thickness, i.e. 3n + 1 and 3n + 2. Profile studies on kaolinite stacks reval integral platelet units whose distribution in thickness corresponds to that of individual plates.
Energy calculations for fracture (cleavage ‖ to c-axis) and delamination (cleavage ⊥c-axis) processes indicate that hydrokinetic cleavage in nature should result in particles having an aspect ratio distribution peaking near 6: 1. The dominance of stacks above 10 μ is suggestive of in situ weathering. Experimental shear measurements correlate well with these proposals.
Sedimentation studies with clays of various shapes and distributions were performed in a variety of aqueous media, including sea water. Sediment volume data, microscopic observations, and theoretical packing calculations are compared with the several mechanisms proposed for plate-stack genesis.
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