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Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 191, pt. 1, originally published in 1968

Testing of Kansas Clays or Shales for Non-Ceramic Utilization

by John M. Huh, Ronald G. Hardy, Norman Plummer, and Maynard P. Bauleke

Cover of the book; beige paper with black text.

Originally published in 1968 as part of "Short Papers on Research in 1967," Kansas Geological Survey Bulletin 191, part 1, p. 17-19. This is, in general, the original text as published. The information has not been updated.


Kansas clays have been extensively tested for ceramic use. A series of tests to evaluate non-ceramic uses has been instigated and indications are that certain clays or shales may have application as filler or for use as agrichemical carriers.

Over the years a fairly extensive program of testing Kansas clays and shales for ceramic use has been carried on (see bibliography on ceramic use program), but only a few special experiments (see bibliography on non-ceramic use program) have been directed primarily toward observing non-ceramic end-use properties of these resources. Speculation on the possibility of using Kansas clays for parting agents, fillers, diluents, extenders, and as carriers for agrichemicals resulted in our conducting a series of tests aimed toward measuring their properties for these purposes.

The first operation in the testing program is a clay-water slurry preparation, with separation of the suspended material from the sediments that drop out. Electrolytes may or may not be used, depending upon the test series or a particular clay. This treatment is particularly effective on the high-kaolin clays from the Dakota Formation of Kansas, resulting in increased alumina content and occasional lightening of color. Most of the free quartz is removed by this procedure. The flow chart for this process is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1--Clay beneficiation flow sheet.

Flow chart for processing raw clay

The second operation consists of four parts performed on appropriate quantities of the dried suspension as removed during the previously described beneficiation. These four parts consist of (1) the evaluation of the material as a filler by color, rub-out, and bleach tests, (2) suspension capability in water for agri-chemical carrying, and (3) closely associated with (2), the compatibility of the material with agri-chemicals. Figure 2 illustrates the steps in these tests.

Figure 2--Tests for evaluating non-ceramic properties of Kansas clays and shales.

Flow chart for processing benneficiated clay or shale

The first series of tests were on (1) a Pleistocene clay having a mixed-layer type of clay mineral (A-3-2), (2) an Upper Cretaceous Kansas shale (Blue Hill Shale) having a mixture of clay minerals, i.e., kaolinite, montmorillonite, and illite in order from greatest to least amount, and (3) a Dakota Formation clay (EL-60-6 and 13) consisting of mostly kaolinite with traces of illite and free quartz.

These tests appear satisfactory for screening clays or shales for a variety of non-ceramic uses. It is planned to examine a number of additional clays and shales by this same series of tests. Bentonites and underclays found in Kansas are being investigated.

The clays tested and described in this report give little indication of any outstanding properties for such non-ceramic uses as fillers or carriers (Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4). The high kaolin clays EL-60-6 and 13 rated the best under these tests.

Table 1--Raw clay beneficiation.

no. and
Hardness Texture Minerals
Light greenish yellow Hard Platy with yellowish stain Mostly quartz and hematite N.D.
Blue Hill
Shale Member
Light gray, with orangish-yellow coatings Soft Platy Mostly quartz some gypsum and pyrite N.D.
Light gray Hard Smooth Quartz and hematite 30%
Light gray Hard Smooth Quartz and hematite 28%

Table 2--Results of tests to evaluate clays as paper, rubber, or other filler material.

Results of
Results of
calcining on color
Rub-out test,
raw material
750°F 1000°F Color Gloss
A-3-2 Very
with gray
Dark red Greenish-yellow Good
Blue Hill
No change Brownish-buff Dark
Greenish-yellow Low
El-60-6 Changed
to light
No change
in color
Gray Fair
El-60-13 Changed
to light
Yellowish-gray Very light
Dark gray Fair

Table 3--Brightness test (reflectometer) on clay El-60-13 from the Dakota Formation.

Percent reflectance
Blue filter Amber filter
Unheated 36.0 45.5
Heated to: 750°F 65.0 75.0
Heated to: 1000°F 68.2 78.0
Heated to: 2134°F 72.0 83.0
Heated to: 2300°F 66.5 82.0

Table 4--Results of tests to evaluate agri-chemical compatibility and carrying ability of clays.

Oil adsorption** Bulk
lbs/cu ft
(80 to 100 mesh)
Total Hard
A-3-2 2.2% 15.0% 40.0% 83 1.6% 8.8% 20.8%
Blue Hill
1.3 12.0 37.0 84 0.5 8.8 14.4
El-60-6 1.5 16.0 40.0 82 0.4 0.7 0.9
El-60-13 2.2 14.0 34.0 75 0.5 0.8 1.0
*Test to measure reactivity of clay with insecticides, maximum percent allowable = 9.0.
**Oil absorption figure represents percent kerosene absorbed.
***Percent solids in suspension at the end of 30 minutes.


I. Ceramic Use Program

Frye, J. C., Plummer, Norman, Runnels, R. T., and Hladik, W. B., 1949, Ceramic utilization of northern Kansas Pleistocene loesses and fossil soils: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 82, pt. 3, p. 49-124. [available online]

Plummer, Norman, Edmonds, C. S., and Bauleke, M. P., 1963, Test-hole exploration for light-firing clay in Cloud and Ellsworth counties, Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 165, pt. 3, 47 p. [available online]

Plummer, Norman, Bauleke, M. P., and Hladik, W. B., 1960, Dakota Formation refractory clays and silts in Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 142, pt. 1, 52 p. [available online]

Plummer, Norman, and Hladik, W. B., 1948, The manufacture of ceramic railroad ballast and constructional aggregates from Kansas clays and silts: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 76, pt. 4, 60 p.

Plummer, Norman, and Hladik, W. B., 1951, The manufacture of lightweight concrete aggregate from Kansas clays and shales: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 91, 100 p.

Plummer, Norman, and Hladik, W. B., 1953, Experiments in the rapid drying of plastic clay brick: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 102, pt. 6, p. 125-144.

Plummer, Norman, Swineford, Ada, Runnels, R. T., and Schleicher, J. A., 1954, Chemical, petrographic, and ceramic properties of four clays from the Dakota Formation in Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 109, pt. 10, p. 153-216. [available online]

Teetor, Paul, 1921, Clay and shale resources in the vicinity of Arkansas City, Kansas; in, Economic Geology of the Arkansas City District: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 8, p. 38-47. [available online]

II. Non-Ceramic Use Program

Bowdish, F. W., 1953, Experimental separation of iron-bearing minerals from certain Kansas clays: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 102, pt. 4, p. 105-116.

Hill, W. E., Jr., Hladik, W. B., and Waugh, W. N., 1963, Preliminary report on the beneficiation of some Kansas clays and shales: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 165, pt. 5, 12 p. [available online]

Ives, William, and Hill, W. E., Jr., 1960, Occurrence and bleaching properties of some Kansas montmorillonite clays: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 142, pt. 4, p. 149-188. [available online]

Kinney, E. D., 1942, Kansas bentonite: its properties and utilization: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 41, pt. 10, p. 349376. [available online]

Kinney, E. D., 1943, A process for extracting alumina from Kansas clay: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 47, pt. 4, p. 113-136.

Kinney, E. D., 1952, Amenability of certain Kansas clays to alumina extraction by the lime-sinter process: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 96, pt. 7, p. 301-328. [available online]

Plummer, Norman, and Hladik, W. B., 1953, Improvement of some Kansas clays through the control of pH and of soluble sulfates: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 102, pt. 7, p. 145-173.

Plummer, Norman, and Romary, J. F., 1947, Kansas clay, Dakota Formation: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 67, 241 p.

Waugh, W. N., Hill, W. E., Jr., Galle, O. K., and Hladik, W. B., 1964, The amenability of Kansas clays to alumina extraction by hydrochloric acid treatment: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 170, pt. 7, 14 p. [available online]

Kansas Geological Survey, Short Papers on Research in 1967
Placed on web Aug. 16, 2011; originally published in April 1968.
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