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The results of this study help to explain the effectiveness of the local Conasauga shale for removing cesium from radioactive waste solutions. Illite, which is present in the shale has a particularly high affinity for cesium. The importance of the c-axis dimension of the 2:1 layer lattice clays was demonstrated by using synthetic micas and selected cation treatment. The beneficial role of potassium in the mica and illite is primarily because this element can induce and maintain collapse of the c-axis. Ion exchange capacities and surface area are secondary to the c-axis dimension in predicting the cesium sorption behavior of clays. The potassium treatment and oven-drying of clays followed by cesium sorption may be used to differentiate montmorillonite from vermiculite; the importance of the findings in terms of weathering and diagenetic processes involving clays is discussed.

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