Encyclopedia of Geochemistry

2018 Edition
| Editors: William M. White

Clay Membranes

  • Ian C. BourgEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-39312-4_8


Clay membranes are clay-rich media (soils, sediments, or sedimentary rocks) that exhibit partial restriction of solute migration relative to that of water, i.e., semipermeable membrane properties.

Geochemical Importance

Clay membrane properties have the potential to significantly modulate the groundwater hydrology of clay-rich media, at least in some cases. They have been studied as a potential cause of erratic fluid pressures in sedimentary formations and, also, because of their potential impacts on well-bore stability, chemico-osmotic consolidation, water and nutrient fluxes in soils, and waste isolation using natural and engineered clay barriers (Takeda et al. 2014).


Clay membranes give rise to two geochemical phenomena: hyperfiltration and osmosis. Hyperfiltration occurs when a hydraulic pressure gradient drives water flow across a clay membrane. For solutes that exhibit restricted migration through the membrane, the solute concentration of the permeate is...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Princeton Environmental InstitutePrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA