Introduction to the properties of clay minerals

Stephen Guggenheim
University of Illinois at Chicago
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  1. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

    Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

    • Scientific Accuracy
    • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
    • Pedagogic Effectiveness
    • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
    • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

    For more information about the peer review process itself, please see

  2. This activity was peer reviewed prior to publication in the Teaching Mineralogy Workbook.

    This teaching activity was originally published in: Brady, J., Mogk, D. W., and Perkins, D., (editors), 1997, "Teaching Mineralogy," a workbook published by the Mineralogical Society of America, 406 pp. All teaching activities in this volume received two external peer reviews from mineralogy faculty focused on content and pedagogy, and a final review by the co-editors to comply with the publication standards of the Mineralogical Society of America.

This page first made public: Aug 7, 2006


These laboratory experiments are designed to show the cation exchange capabilities of clays and how these exchanges affect physical properties.

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This lab exercise could be used in undergraduate courses in mineralogy, sedimentology, hydrology, environmental sciences, geomorphology, physical geology, or civil engineering.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered


How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is a stand alone exercise. This activity is a stand-alone exercise, but is part of a larger volume of classroom and laboratory activities from "Teaching Mineralogy," a workbook published by the Mineralogical Society of America, Brady, J., Mogk, D. W., and Perkins, D., (editors), 1997,406 pp.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

In this activity students learn about the physical properties of clays.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Skills developed include the analysis of data and the application of experiments to environmentally relevant problems.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students also learn to work with a partner or a group.

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity explores how clay affects the permeability of sands, the effect of chemical differences of the clay (cation exchange), and how these results may be applied to low-level radioactive waste disposal sites.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Class discussions are used to establish whether students have met the goals.

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Supporting references/URLs

Brady, J., Mogk, D. W., and Perkins, D., (editors), 1997, Teaching Mineralogy, a workbook published by the Mineralogical Society of America, 406 pp.

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