Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 211–220 | Cite as

Transformation of clay minerals in nanoparticles of several zonal soils in China

  • Zhi Yi Zhang
  • Li Huang
  • Fan Liu
  • Ming Kuang Wang
  • Georges Martial Ndzana
  • Zhi Jie Liu
Soils, Sec 3 • Remediation and Management of Contaminated or Degraded Lands • Research Article



Clay minerals significantly affect the physical, chemical, and biological processes of soils. They undergo spontaneous modification and transformation depending to the climatic conditions. Information concerning the compositions and transformation of clay minerals in nanoparticle colloids (NPs) (25–100 nm) is severely lacking. Studying clay mineral transformation is important approach to understand soil formation. This study was conducted to determine the transformation sequence of clay minerals in several zonal soil NPs.

Materials and methods

Four soils (Haplustalf, Alf-1; Hapludalf, Alf-2; Hapludults, Ult-1 and Ult-2) were collected from B horizons developed under three different climatic zones of China. Alf-1 (36° 05′ N and 117° 24′ E) was located under a warm temperate zone and Alf-2 (30° 38′ N and 115° 26′ E), Ult-1 (29° 13′ N and 113° 46′ E), and Ult-2 (19° 27′ N and 109° 17′ E) under a subtropical zone. The clay particles (< 2000 nm) (CPs) and nanoparticles (25–100 nm) (NPs) of tested soils were separated. The element composition of CPs and NPs was identified by microwave digestion method. The mineralogy and chemical bonding of clay minerals were studied by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR).

Results and discussion

With decreasing latitude, NPs and CPs showed that the molar ratio of SiO2 to Al2O3 trends to diminish, indicating the phenomenon of desilication and allitization in the tested soils. XRD analysis revealed that the main clay mineral of Alf-1 NPs was illite, followed by vermiculite, kaolinite, and kaolinite interstratified minerals (KIMs). The clay minerals of Alf-2, Ult-1, and Ult-2 NPs were dominated by kaolinite (and KIMs), followed by illite, with a little content of hydroxyl-interlayered vermiculite (HIV) in Ult-1 NPs and trace content of gibbsite in Ult-2 NPs. With decreasing latitude, vermiculite and HIV decreased in NPs. When compared to CPs, smectite as well as illite-vermiculite mix-layer mineral (I-V) and illite-HIV mix-layer mineral (I-HIV) were not detected in NPs. The analysis of d060 region by XRD showed that with decreasing latitude, the main clay minerals in NPs were dioctahedral minerals (e.g., illite or kaolinite). These clay minerals resulted from the transformation of trioctahedral minerals in CPs. The disappearance of 2:1 swelling minerals and trioctahedral minerals showed that the NPs were more susceptible to weathering than CPs.


With decreasing latitude, the transformation of clay minerals followed the sequence of illite → HIV → kaolinite → gibbsite in tested NPs.


Clay minerals Nanoparticles Transformation Zonal soils 



The authors thank the beamline BL14B1 (Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility) for providing the beam time. This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of People’s Republic of China (Grant No. 41271252).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhi Yi Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Li Huang
    • 1
  • Fan Liu
    • 1
  • Ming Kuang Wang
    • 3
  • Georges Martial Ndzana
    • 1
  • Zhi Jie Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Arable Land Conservation (Middle and Lower Reaches of Yangtze River), Ministry of AgricultureHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Qianjiang Scientific Observing and Experimental Station of Agro-Environment and Arable Land Conservation (Ministry of Agriculture), Plant Protection, Soil and Fertilizer Research InstituteHubei Academy of Agricultural SciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural ChemistryNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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