is a non-expanding, clay
-sized, micaceous mineral. Illite is a phyllosilicate
or layered alumino-silicate. Its structure is constituted by the repetition of Tetrahedron – Octahedron – Tetrahedron (TOT) layer. The interlayer space is mainly occupied by poorly hydrated potassium cations responsible for the absence of swelling. Structurally illite is quite similar to muscovite
with slightly more silicon
, and water and slightly less tetrahedral aluminium
and interlayer potassium
. The chemical formula is given as (K,H3
O)], but there is considerable ion substitution. It occurs as aggregates of small monoclinic
grey to white crystals. Due to the small size, positive identification usually requires x-ray diffraction
analysis. Illite occurs as an alteration product of muscovite and feldspar
environments. It is common in sediments, soils, and argillaceous sedimentary rocks
as well as in some low grade metamorphic rocks
in sediments can be differentiated by x-ray analysis.
The cation exchange capacity (CEC) of illite is smaller than that of smectite but higher than that of kaolinite, typically around 20 – 30 meq/100 g.
Illite was first described for occurrences in the Maquoketa shale in Calhoun County, Illinois, USA, in 1937. The name was derived from its type location in Illinois. Illite is also called hydromica or hydromuscovite. Brammallite is a sodium rich analogue.
Illite is also used in food supplements, with claimed benefits that range from bowel function to reduction of heavy metals in the blood. Apparently, a French company, Argiletz, provides a wide range of products which are offered for sale in the UK and elsewhere. "Green clay", a term used in several languages, often contains illite. In Scotland, internal uses of illite probably date back to Celtic times.
- Mitchell J.K. (1993) Fundamentals of soil behavior. Second edition. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York. 437 pp, see Chapter 3, Soil Mineralogy, p. 32.