Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_845-4



Kaolinite is an extremely common layered silicate clay mineral with the chemical composition Al2Si2O5(OH)4. It consists of one tetrahedral sheet linked through oxygen atoms to one octahedral sheet of alumina octahedra. The name is derived from Chinese Gaoling meaning “high hill,” a mountain located in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, China. Kaolinite has a low cation exchange capacity. It is a soft, usually white mineral produced by the chemical weathering of aluminum silicate minerals such as feldspar. It is often colored reddish-orange by the presence of traces of iron oxides but may range from white, yellow, or light orange when lesser amounts of iron are present. Kaolinite occurs abundantly in soils formed from chemical weathering of rocks in hot, humid climates.

See Also


Iron Oxide Clay Mineral Cation Exchange Cation Exchange Capacity Silicate Clay 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI)Tokyo Institute of TechnologyMeguro-kuJapan
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced StudyPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Blue Marble Space Institute of ScienceWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Chemical EvolutionGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA