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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 27, 2019

Formation of saponite by hydrothermal alteration of metal oxides: Implication for the rarity of hydrotalcite

  • Qi Tao ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Qingjin Zeng , Manyou Chen , Hongping He and Sridhar Komarneni
From the journal American Mineralogist


Conversion of hydrotalcite (Ht) to saponite was observed by hydrothermal alkaline alteration of metal oxides. The conversion was through a pathway of hydration-dissolution-precipitation. It involved several critical steps, including the construction of Ht from metal oxides, dissolution of Al3+ from Ht, condensation of metasilicate anions with Ht, and finally crystallization of saponite. The condensation was favored by relatively low Mg/Al ratios of Ht, along with high concentrations of Al3+ and silicate oligomers in the environment, resulting in highly crystalline saponite. The latter conversion was greatly accelerated by the isomorphous substitution of Al3+ for Si4+ in silicate oligomers. The substitution generated the extra negative charge and led to the aforementioned condensation with Ht surface, thereby promoting the formation of saponite TOT layers. During the process, CO2 is an indispensable component. Initially intercalated as CO32 to form Ht, CO2 was subsequently eliminated from the solid phase, and saponite formed when the layer charge was reversed. Thus, this study presents a novel formation mechanism of saponite from metal oxides via hydrotalcite and contributes to a better understanding of the crystallization, chemical stability, and transformation of Ht to saponite. The results are also relevant to evaluating metal availability and carbon cycling on the surface of the Earth.

  1. Funding: This work was financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 41772039 and 41530313), CAS Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences (grant number QYZDJSSW-DQC023-1), and Guangdong Provincial Youth Top-notch Talent Support Program (grant number 2015TQ01Z797). One of us (S.K.) was supported by the College of Agricultural Sciences under Station Research Project No. PEN04566.


We are grateful to Hexiong Yang at the University of Arizona, and the reviewers for constructive comments and suggestions.

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Received: 2019-03-10
Accepted: 2019-04-27
Published Online: 2019-07-27
Published in Print: 2019-08-27

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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